Perhaps one of the biggest lessons learned through the pandemic is the immense value of human contact and the importance of empathy. When people feel connected to others and understood, their interactions are more meaningful and likely to elicit positive responses. When we consider digital transformation efforts, there is often a focus on the technology component, but we’re trying to create more engaging and personal experiences.
What Are CX and EX?
Whenever a person interacts with a system, whether a customer or employee, they will have some emotional response. When we talk about CX for customers or EX for employees, we’re talking about how they feel and what feelings we want people to have when they see or do something.
For example, when we think about search, people are either looking for something specific or browsing. At the start of that interaction, they may be either focused on one particular outcome or curious. It’s like the difference between using a mapping app to get to a specific place or exploring a new town and finding a hidden gem.
CX and EX give customers and employees the experience they expect at each point in an interaction.
Understanding What Makes Great CX and EX
During a face-to-face interaction with colleagues at work or with a support person, we understand other people’s intent through observation and making decisions about what to do next. Posture, eye contact, tone of voice, and lots of other data are processed by our brains and help us customize our communications to build empathy with that individual.
Great CX, in that context, comes from one person using the data they have observed about the other person’s intent and helping them on their journey, either showing them more of what they want or helping them discover something different.
The same goes when it comes to EX. When we think about great managers and colleagues, we tend to think more about how they relate and communicate rather than the systems they put in place.
Excellent EX and CX use what we know and can infer and discern to elicit positive emotional responses.
It’s All in the Data
As we’ve digitized more interactions, companies have been on a quest to understand their customers better to develop better experiences to increase customer retention through better service and encourage increased sales. That resulted in better recommendation engines, improved search tools, and enhanced processes to ensure interactions result in enhanced outcomes.
Similarly, as digital transformation has resulted in vast improvements in business processes, data about how employees interact with systems and whether they are achieving better outcomes is increasingly available.
Data is a key element in delivering vastly improved CX and EX. It helps assess intent and determine whether the customer or employee has positively achieved their desired outcome. When we know the customer, we can customize the experience. And, where it makes sense, we can automate processes but ensure they can deal directly with another person where that’s likely to deliver the best outcome.
When we think back to our interactions, we take in dozens of visual and auditory cues to determine whether things are going well. But in the online world, we have to use different cues. And those cues come from the data collected—everything from how someone discovers a system, through to the steps they take to find what they want through to completing the interaction.
Build Empathy through Listening and Understanding
The data collected whenever someone interacts with our systems is the sensory input we can use to listen and understand. You may develop detailed insights using data such as past purchases, demographic information, external trends and influences, current activity, and publicly accessible social information.
Similarly, when you understand how employees interact with systems, you can learn about making their experience better. And with so many teams now working remotely, using that data is more critical than ever. We can no longer rely on observing people’s demeanor and mood as we often aren’t in the same place.
Empathy also builds trust. This is why it’s essential to ensure data is stored and transmitted securely and that customers and employees know that their information is safe. Without trust, empathy is almost impossible to build.
When we design systems in this way, we can foster a sense of empathy with customers and employees. Rather than putting in unnecessary speed bumps, we can build systems and processes that support them on their journeys. We can build empathy by thinking of them as people on a journey rather than inputs and outputs from transactions and processes.
As a result, we can improve customer acquisition, boost customer retention and become more attractive places to work.
This article was initially published in CX Focus Magazine.