It doesn’t take the magic of a crystal ball to see that the future of customer experience (CX), and the industry as we know it today, will be vastly different. CX is critically important to your business, which means you’re probably trying to anticipate the trends emerging in CX.
With executives more focused than ever on empowering their teams to connect with and build empathy for their customers, you will need actionable tactics to better gather, analyze, and act on customer insights. Whether you’re a team of one or part of a cross-functional, company-wide initiative, here are the trends you need to know to successfully build experiences the customers of tomorrow will expect.
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How do I convince my execs to put more focus on CX?
Take the time to understand what their particular context is. If they’re not putting much emphasis on it, it’s your job to understand why. Are there metrics or key initiatives they’re trying to drive? If so, relate those things back to customer experience and how it will help solve those problems or drive initiatives forward.
Basically, there are two types of companies. The first type, on an intuitive basis, understands that customer experience is a good thing that will help the company, so they just automatically invest in it.
The rest, on the other hand, need to be shown how customer experience relates back to the things that they deeply care about. So if they can’t make that translation themselves, you need to help them understand how these things fit together.
- • Find out what they care about and then speak their language – The single most impactful way for you to get them to pay attention is to show them how you can make them be more successful at the end of the day.
- • Next, it is sometimes helpful to approach it from a different angle. Instead of showing people struggling with your experience, it’s beneficial to show a competitive experience – Rather than saying there’s something terrible with your experience, show how people might have better experiences with a competitor. This way, you’re not targetting the work and accountability of someone else in your organization.
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The impact of scaling empathy in your organization.
Customer empathy is something that may have seemed like a buzzword or lip-service in the past, but it’s proven to be a competitive differentiator. We’re often asked for practical tips on how to do so. With everyone’s schedules already overpacked, when is there any time to share insight—especially when it’s in the form of hours of video?
Here’s how to turn hours of video into empathy sessions:
1. Include absolutely everyone and make it easy to join!
We believe every single employee benefits from—and is able to do their job better—as a result of truly understanding their customers. At these sessions, you can get together to watch recorded customer interviews where they talk about their goals and problems. Some tips on how to get this started and how to maintain it:
- • Rotate where and when the sessions are held and what the focus is so different parts of the organization are able to participate.
- • Deploy your champions. Even at a company like ours that has built its culture around the importance of empathy, people get busy and urgent things come up. As a leader, you must make it a habit to talk about the importance of these sessions, to reference specific learnings and actions that come out of them, and to remind your employees that attending will make them better at their jobs (and ultimately more successful as an organization). This reinforcement promotes employees to step away from their desks, rearrange meetings, and make attending these sessions both a habit and a priority.
- • Make it easy. Your sessions can be scheduled over lunch so that you and your employees can watch the videos and chat as you eat. And they’re recorded so that if anyone misses them they can catch up later.
- • Leave time for discussion after the videos. And take notes on findings.
2. Structure your customer interviews as empathy tests, not usability tests.
Get them talking about themselves and record it. The recordings can be through live conversation or recorded tests. When you’re putting together your questions for your empathy session videos, think about them more as a chance to get to know how your customers think and what’s important to them, and less about what they think about your product or service.
Some of our favorite questions include:
- • Describe your role, what are you responsible for?
- • How are you measured?
- • What other roles/teams do you regularly interact with?
- • What are your goals for the year?
- • What are the biggest barriers to achieving those goals?
- • What keeps you up at night?
At the viewing sessions, we strongly recommend screening the full interviews, not just excerpts. You want people to build empathy by hearing how customers talk and what their lives are like. It’s not about excerpts, it’s about understanding.
3. Give it time.
Habits can take a little time to become routine. If you’re working on starting a customer empathy program, or something similar at your company, be patient and persistent. Once a few people start gaining insights that make them think about taking a different, more customer-centric approach to a question or challenge, word will spread about the value of empathy hours and learning from and about your customers as a team.
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