The Future of Successful Business Means Scaling Empathy – Part 2 – Apply to Customer Touch Points

by · November 23, 20125 comments

In my last post on scaling empathy I explained what it means for businesses to scale empathy and why it’s important. I also laid out three high-level steps I think every business can take to scale empathy in their business starting with the first step, developing customer personas.

As a reminder, here they all are again:

  1. Get to Know Your Customers Better by Developing Personas
  2. Reduce Friction by Applying Personas to Customer Touch Points
  3. Create Open Channels of Feedback and Review

Now we’ll focus on on the next step by applying these personas to customer touch points.

Consumer Touch Points

What are customer touch points? Simply put, they are anywhere your customers come into contact with your brand. You’d be surprised just how many of them there are. Each an opportunity to delight or frustrate your customers.

Here are a half dozen common customer touch points most businesses have:

  1. Social media channels
  2. Website
  3. Customer Service (online, phone or in person)
  4. Sales Channels (in store, online, phone)
  5. Advertising & Marketing
  6. Products/Services

Looking at these at a high level these are touch points that all companies have. It’s when you drill down a bit that things get a bit more specific depending on the type of company you are. You’d think it common sense that brands are aware of these touch points, but it only takes a customer service phone call, a visit to a company website or the use of some products to see that a little injection of empathy could go a long way. In the world of social media, these poor customer experiences are the most often discussed and shared on the web. A quick Twitter search could show you that.

So how do those previously mentioned personas come into play? Well grab those and let’s think about how to apply them to a few of those touch points.

Social media channels

Use the personas to understand which social networks your customers frequent most and how they use them. If they expect to be able to field customer service or product inquiries through them what have you done to make it easy for them to do that? Consider integrating your social media channels more closely with your customer service and sales systems so your existing teams can manage things quickly and without the need to login to separate systems to help customers.

Website

Having built numerous websites I’ve often witnessed the misunderstanding by businesses that it takes very little beyond getting information online to have a good web site. That half hearted approach to a website can appease management who’ll cheer “Yay! We have a new website!”, but leave the customer fumbling around a mish-mash of  random links and sales fluff. Your website is one of the easiest ways to scale empathy since so many people rely on them. Use the personas to understand the needs of your customers and develop your web site accordingly. What do they want access to? Are they coming to your website for research, customer service, to purchase something? The design, content and information architecture all play their part. It should be built for the customer first and the C-suite second. Grab your personas, review your website and see how it measures up.

Customer Service (online, phone or in person)

Customer service takes on many forms depending on the type of business and customer. I’m going to suggest one place to focus your efforts first, your telephone customer service. Do you want to grate on people’s nerves? This is an awesome place to do it. Make customers wait a long time before picking up or bounce them between multiple departments that have absolutely no idea how to help. I’ll address something simpler and more easily scaled. While waiting on hold, give your customers some control! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on hold and have had to listen to someone else’s terrible choice in music, or even worse, advertisements for the business. Give them some control. Use a system that allows them to choose what they want to be subject to while waiting. It should also be kind enough to give them an idea how much longer they will likely be waiting. Want to be a super star? Get a system that will get the customer’s name, number and why they are calling and then call them back as soon as an agent is available.

Continually Develop Your Empathetic Mindset

These are just a handful of ways to inject some empathy into your customer experiences. Scaling that empathy means identifying customer touch points that scale. Look first at those that are automated and digital. The personas should help you develop a more empathetic mindset towards all parts of your business including product development, brand messaging and advertising. Want to kick start your empathetic mindset? Read my post on “25 Ways to Honor Your Customers.”

In an upcoming post I’ll wrap things up by sharing a few ways to keep the empathy in business flowing by creating and maintaining open channels of feed. In the meantime, I’d love your thoughts in the comments.

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About Adam Helweh

Adam Helweh

Adam is CEO of Secret Sushi Creative Inc, a strategic design, digital and social media marketing agency. He specializes in the convergence of design and technology to provide businesses with more intelligent and interactive ways to connect with customers and grow. His clients have included Edelman, Broadcom, Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Bunchball and others. He's also the co-host of the "SoLoMo Show", a weekly digital marketing podcast, and he has shared the stage with professionals from companies including Facebook, Virgin Airlines, Paypal, Dell and 24 Hour Fitness.

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