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 what we’re really trying to do is create more engaging and personal experiences.
What are CX and EX?
Whenever a person interacts with a system, whether they’re a customer or employee, they will have some sort of emotional response. When we talk about CX for customers or EX for employees, what we’re talking about is both 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 they are browsing. At the start of that interaction they may be either focussed on a specific 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 are about giving 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 interacting with a support person, we understand the intent of other people through observation and making decisions about what to do next. Posture, eye contact, tone of voice and lots of other pieces of data are processed by our brains and help us to customise 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.
Great EX and CX is about using what we know and what we can infer and discern to elicit positive emotional responses.
It’s all in the data
As we’ve digitised more interactions, companies have been on a quest to better understand their customers so they can develop better experiences in order 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 achieved their desired outcome in a positive way. When we know the customer, we can customise the experience so it’s personalised. 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 personal interactions, we take in dozens of visual and auditory cues in order 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 that’s 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 that’s collected whenever someone interacts with our systems is the sensory input we can use to listen and understand. Data such as past purchases, demographic information, external trends and influences, current activity and publicly accessible social information can be used to develop detailed insights.
Similarly, when you understand how employees interact with systems, you can learn a lot about making their experience better. And with so many teams now working remotely, using that data is more important than ever. We can no longer rely on observing people’s demeanour and mood as we often aren’t in the same place.
Empathy also builds trust. This is why it’s so important 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. We can build systems and processes that support them on their journeys rather than putting in unnecessary speed bumps. By thinking of them as people on a journey rather than inputs and outputs from transactions and processes we can build empathy.
As a result, we can improve customer acquisition, boost customer retention and become more attractive places to work.