Genuine empathy will be mission-critical to CX in 2023

Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Care

This is an excerpt from our recent ebook, CX Trends & Predictions for 2023: Seeking Stability. Grab the full report here.

We already know this, but as technology advances, it’s easy for things to spiral and become too … well, technical. So having empathy for customers, offering them ways to listen, and empowering your customer-facing teams to be human will be incredibly important for high-growth CX-focused companies.

That empathy applies not only to customers, but to internal employees as well. And while most companies value empathy, even with the best intentions, many have been missing the mark. A 2022 survey revealed that 69% of employees say their organizations are empathetic – which is down from 72% in 2021. 

Here are some ways organizations need to rethink empathy moving into 2023.

Making empathy real: how organizations need to rethink empathy in 2023

When it comes to earning customer loyalty, it’s more important to show them respect than to make them happy

Delighting customers and making them feel happy or content may not be as important as showing them respect. According to Forrester, making customers feel respected, understood, valued, or confident has a greater impact on customer loyalty.

You can grow customer satisfaction by practicing respect – both in self-service and assisted service. Giving your customers basic ways to answer their own simple questions through self-help resources shows respect. And when they need help solving more complex issues, actively listening and empathizing with them makes them feel valued. 

Pseudo-empathy has to stop; it’s time to have real empathy for customers

“Empathy” has become a CX buzzword, but customers aren’t feeling it. Authentic empathy doesn’t come from scripted empathetic statements, and customers can see right through the performance.

Agent experience needs to be prioritized, too

Agent experience (AX) may be seen as an HR issue, but it’s more far-reaching than that. Customer service agents arguably have more customer interactions than any other role, which makes the agent experience closely linked to CX. Glassdoor found that for every 1% increase in a company’s Glassdoor rating, the company also saw a 1.3% improvement in their customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. 

It’s a ripple effect: a better agent experience leads to higher CSAT which means better profits. In fact, highly-engaged teams show 21% higher profitability.

The spotlight that’s shining on AX isn’t only powered by its connection to customer experience. Consumers are increasingly interested in how businesses treat their employees. Qualtrics found that nearly half of consumers put more trust in brands who take care of their employees. According to a McKinsey study, the pandemic drove this shift: one in four consumers believe that a company’s treatment of its employees has increased in importance when making purchasing decisions since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, we can’t cover the agent experience and not mention the Great Resignation. Call centers, like many employers, are facing recruiting and hiring challenges – which only underscores the importance of prioritizing the agent experience.

What can be done to improve the agent experience? We outlined four factors that drive meaningful change:

  • Technology and resources available
  • A supportive work environment
  • Training and coaching
  • Better communication

Learn more about these factors and the importance of making work less transactional and more human here

Allowing agents to be human will drive meaningful connections

Consumers are getting used to chatbots with scripted responses. But when they talk to a human agent, they want a human interaction. They want to feel seen and heard by a person who can relate to them in a non-robotic way.

This isn’t to say that technology is the enemy. In contrast, technology can empower agents to provide better and faster service. The key will be in balancing technology with human service in the right ways – knowing when to leverage technology, when to lean on agents, and when to combine the two.

For example, predictive CX technology can provide customer service agents with insights that enable them to provide more proactive support. But the technology isn’t providing the support, it’s providing the data. Combining both – powerful technology and meaningful human connection – is where CX magic can happen.

Forbes called empathy “the next business disrupter” – a response to cultural shifts that occurred during the pandemic. In a digital age where we are surrounded by technology, we’re also craving more meaningful human connection. Companies across all industries must weave empathy into all areas of their business if they want to attain and attract today’s consumer.

To explore more key trends and predictions for 2023, plus five important questions to ask your team to develop your CX strategy, download our 2023 trends report: