Opinion: Closing the empathy gap with customers
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Opinion: Closing the empathy gap with customers

Opinion: Closing the empathy gap with customers

Many businesses have yet to fully realise the potential of AI technologies to listen, comprehend, forecast and learn about important trends across the entire customer journey

The writer is the director of Partnerships - MEA, Türkiye, and France, Genesys on briging the empathy gap with customers

Over the years, businesses have been slowly and steadily adopting new technologies to grow and adapt to the changing business environment. The pandemic turned this wave of digital acceleration into a tsunami, with lockdowns and remote working triggering a new era of digitisation and online interaction.

According to a survey by YouGov MENA, today, in the MENA region,  91 per cent of customers  have become digital converts since the pandemic, and plan to continue shopping online. Consequently, companies have had to adapt their services for the virtual consumer and create a pleasant customer experience on new platforms and applications.

As such, enterprises have been attempting to encompass varying aspects of their service offering into convenient online experiences; however, they often dismiss a critical factor that does not appear on a profit and loss statement: empathy, specifically towards customers and employees.

According to the Intelligence Report 2022, 74 per cent of MENA companies plan to spend over $200,000 on improving their customer experience (CX). Thus, they must comprehend the empathy gaps that necessitate further investment.

The five empathy gaps and how to address them

According to the findings of our Business Case For Empathy report, companies face five empathy gaps that impede their digital innovation and advancement journey, beginning with the customer identity gap.

Nearly half of those surveyed claimed that their contact centre personnel and chatbots have to ask for client identity information during both real-time phone and digital engagements. To address this, organisations must pay close attention to consumer interactions and event data across all touchpoints. Once the data has been gathered, it can then be integrated with AI to enable CX leaders to develop more comprehensive, real-time customer profiles that are accessible for the interaction’s subsequent phases.

The second issue is the personalisation gap, which occurs when a company lacks the depth of understanding necessary to truly personalise CX. Businesses can utilise a customer’s recent activity to predict their intent and personalise their interaction. For instance, they could know if a customer has a pending order, has been searching for pricing on their website or has responded to IVR voice prompts.

Alternatively, businesses can use AI to obtain insights and anticipate the customers’ propensity. Both these strategies will enable agents and bots direct consumers to the optimal course of action, thereby delivering a seamless customer experience.

The next big issue is the intelligence gapMany businesses have yet to fully realise the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to listen, comprehend, forecast, and learn across the entire customer journey. Due to their inability to properly utilise AI technologies, most firms are missing out on opportunities to act and respond in the present while also gaining deeper insight for long-term strategic planning around CX.

Customer event data may be supplemented with AI across channels, touchpoints, and interactions to better understand intent, preferences, and sentiment better. Then, in real-time enhancements of interactions, including self-service and agent assistance, can be implemented. Through computational analysis, businesses may make the necessary adjustments to develop long-term, customer-centric strategy planning and improve customer and employee experiences.

As many CX measures lack reliable indicators, there is a significant measurement gap. Approximately 40 per cent of executives we polled said that they only “sometimes” review the results of surveys and focus group results. Additionally, over 73 per cent of CEOs polled stated that they find it difficult to determine the financial benefits of enhancing their CX components.

Now more than ever, businesses need to track, evaluate, and course correct in the moment. Companies can use AI to prioritise and address issues in real-time by examining event and intent data, employee and ‘Voice of the Customer’ input, and interaction data.  In addition, businesses should also develop a continuous feedback loop and share insights across the organisation, instead of only reviewing the ‘Voice of the Customer’ periodically.

Finally, a crucial pain point for companies is the change management gap. Initiatives that would improve CX often stall or don’t reach their full potential because of a lack of adoption, cross-functional collaboration, or planning. In addition, company culture and management strategies could unintentionally inhibit changes from happening.

To remedy this, companies must adopt a top-down and a bottom-up approach that aligns their business objectives with their employees’ career and growth goals — no matter their role. Everything employees do should focus on your customers and their experiences. Rethinking measurement, reward, and recognition programs can help encourage and support the adoption and use of new tools and processes. Considering cultural, organizational, and management changes are required to motivate employees to overcome the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and adopt new — and better — ways of operating.

Positive customer experience breeds loyalty

The dynamics of customer service are evolving. Reaching and pleasing every client has never been simple, and as new channels emerge and millennial and Gen Z consumers dominate the market, the challenge only grows. There isn’t just one way to increase client loyalty. Positive tweets and shares aren’t the only factors in loyalty and retention. A poor customer experience can have a negative impact on a business’s bottom line. It is crucial for businesses to exercise empathy to engage with customers of all ages, on the channels of their choice, thereby gaining an advantage in the customer loyalty game.

The writer is the director of Partnerships – MEA, Türkiye, and France, Genesys

Read: Adding the human touch to AI for better customer experience

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