Any business that deals directly with customers may be familiar with customer empathy. It is a term used to describe the feelings of the customers in relation to the business itself or the product or services being sold. Customer empathy needs to be addressed by company executives, as customers are finding new ways to express their feelings through social media. And companies should not forget the internal individuals of the business, as employees may also be classified as empathetic customers.
The basic definition of customer empathy is the ability to identify a customer’s emotional need or state, understand the reasons behind this state, and respond to it effectively and appropriately. These emotional needs can include personal feelings toward the company, interaction, or products the business has exchanged with the customer. It also can be a single problem with the interaction. The customer empathy should be addressed before, during and after the interaction with the customer to give her the best experience possible with the company and its representatives.
Reasons for Customer Empathy
Although customer empathy is defined as understanding a customer’s needs before, during and after a given interaction with a company, the employer must understand that there are several reasons for the needs and feelings of the customer. The reasons for the lack of empathy could be the treatment of customer service representatives, the condition or quality of the product or service, the lack of interaction between the company and the consumer’s overall experience with the company before, during and after the interaction.
When a customer has a bad experience with a company, she may share it with friends and family. It is becoming increasingly easier for consumers to share their opinions and experiences with the population. Consumers can share opinions and images through cell phones and other digital devices by posting them on social media networks, forums and online community networks. The lack of customer empathy does not only hurt the relationship with the single customer, but can prevent hundreds of consumers to make contact with the company due to the options and images shared online.
Customer empathy should not only be applied to external customers. Employees of any given business can also be classified as customers of the business. Although they may not be purchasing services or products, employees often expect a level of understanding and respect in the workplace. Employers should be empathetic towards all employees by recognizing and addressing any needs, feelings or problems the workers may have in the workplace. Employees are less likely to leave a workplace if the managers and owners show empathy and understanding toward employees’ needs.
Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.