How to Make Customers Fall in Love with Your Brand [infographic]
February 12, 2020
By: Jason Sterns
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
That phrase, from Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, would be music any brand’s ears… were it coming from a customer.
But the question uppermost on the minds of customer service and CX professionals is, “How do we get customers to love our brand?”
One way to get love is to give it through a channel tailor-made for that purpose: the customer service contact center. It may even be fair to say that the best way to a customer’s heart is through the contact center.
Successful interactions with a skilled agent can lead to outstanding customer experiences and happy customers who are more likely to be loyal (if not in love) with your brand, products, and services.
How do contact center agents express love to customers? By showing empathy.
Famed psychologist Alfred Adler defined empathy as “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
Your customers need to know that you care about them as humans before they care what you know about the problem that brought them to you.
That’s why, to win the hearts of your customers, it’s imperative that you make a human connection, and why empathy should play a central role in your customer service interactions.
Reasons to Express Empathy
There are plenty of reasons to make empathy an inherent part of your customer service efforts. Here are four we identified:
Empathy delivers a positive customer experience
Customers will remember and appreciate agents who demonstrate an understanding of their problem. In turn, it leads to a more positive experience and impression of the company the agent represents.
Empathy diffuses volatile phone calls
The agent’s ability to express genuine empathy to emotional callers is often enough to diffuse a volatile situation and ease tensions. The customer feels validated: they have been listened to, and their concerns were taken seriously.
Empathy builds customer loyalty
Customers who have positive interactions with agents will likely want to continue doing business with the company.
Empathy boosts the bottom line
The Global Empathy Index (yes, there is such a thing) found that the top ten companies in the index increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom ten and generated 50 percent more earnings.
Challenges to Developing Empathy
Research by IBM’s Institute for Business Value found “many executives have tried to put themselves in their customers’ shoes emotionally. Yet, even with mountains of customer data at their disposal, executives are still susceptible to projecting their needs onto their customers with an inside-out point of view.”
This chart depicts the serious misalignment that exists between companies and their customers:
Another aspect of the empathy challenge lies in teaching customer service agents to show empathy.
A younger workforce’s dependence on mobile devices for communication means their natural ability to interact verbally with others is less developed than other generations.
“When someone is unfriendly, makes us angry, or we sense emotion or conflict, we simply dismiss them with an emoticon, unfriend or block them,” said Pat Ricken, director of Training, QA, and leadership development at Transparent BPO. “That means actually dealing with conflict — and expressing empathy in the process — does not come naturally.”
Even though the inherent ability to express empathy may be less, Ricken emphasizes that empathy can be nurtured, and agents can learn to identify with the customer’s feelings and emotions.
Ways to Show Empathy in the Contact Center
How do you go about expressing empathy in the contact center?
Build a positive connection with the customer. Understanding your customers’ needs and wants is a critical first step towards creating more positive customer experiences that lead to brand loyalty and love. Make that vital positive connection with the customer early in the call by showing respect, understanding the fundamental problem, and presenting a workable solution quickly and efficiently.
Learn to listen. Forty percent of respondents to a CallMiner survey said they just want someone to listen. And when you add empathy to the equation, 43 percent of angry, annoyed, upset customers say they leave satisfied.
Speak the customer’s language. Agents and customers can often feel like they are speaking a different language. Train your agents to respond in a way the customer will understand.
Focus on the problem, not the person. Even if the customer wants to act as if the agent is at fault, agents must keep their focus on the problem, not the person. That helps them remain patient and calm rather than becoming anxious or defensive.
This Case Study Proves Empathy Works
A recent case study of an online pharmacy startup showcases the value of empathy in achieving service level success.
The company’s leaders hired us to help them meet some aggressive sales goals. Along with teaching the names and spellings of hundreds of medications and insurance plan coverages and co-pays, our agents were trained on customer empathy and listening ability, to support an older consumer demographic.
As a result, we increased conversions to enrollments by 29 percent, raised outbound lead conversions by 58 percent, and boosted the quality score to 98 percent, outperforming a previous vendor.
Other Ways to Foster Customer Love
Empathy isn’t the only path to a customer’s heart, just one of the most significant. Here are some others:
Deliver value – It won’t matter how exceptional your customer service is if your products and services don’t deliver the value customers expect.
Reward customers – If appropriate for your business, reward customers with loyalty points and incentives.
Ask for feedback – Knowing you value their input is a sure-fire way to engender customer loyalty and love.
Delight at every turn – Work to make every aspect of the customer experience a pleasure, from the first time they interact with you and all along the customer journey.
Showing empathy can leave customers feeling satisfied, improve customer experience, and engender long-term loyalty and trust. And while it’s not the only way to get customers to love your brand, it’s undoubtedly an essential element.
So, if you want customers to love your brand, the path may be through the contact center with agents trained to empathize.