Leading with Empathy – Why Modern Businesses Must Focus on Human Centric Experiences

By Premjith Alampilly Chandrasekharan, Lead – Product Marketing, SunTec Business Solutions

Empathy – Noun: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy or the ability to empathize with others is one of the most crucial factors that decide a person’s emotional intelligence and how they interact with others. Up until now, businesses based their models and strategies on the concept of efficiency. Empathy is the newest buzzword in the world of business and likely a trend that is here to stay.

At the heart of this shift to empathetic business is the modern customer and their expectations. On the one hand, customers want a more fulfilling experience. They want ease of use, on demand access, intuitive and personalized experiences, offerings and much more. At the same time, they are increasingly aware and conscious about ethics and values of any organization or brand they engage with. It is no longer just about which business has the better prices, but also about which business’ values resonate with their own, and who they perceive as caring. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to deepen the importance of a value driven customer experience. A Deloitte study in April last year found that one in four people strongly agreed that they disengaged from brands that acted only in self-interest.1 And more than 70 percent said they valued digital innovations that helped them connect better with others.

In a market characterized by increasing competition, organizations today must focus on delivering a superlative customer experience – both business-related, and value driven. Customer engagement, positively impacting society and retaining top talent are at the top of almost every company’s agenda today. This does not have to come at cost of efficiency or profitability. In fact, modern businesses must find the fine balance between efficiency and a human touch. Right now, most sectors across the world are accelerating their digital transformation journeys in a bid for greater efficiency. But in doing so they must not forget about the human element. Research  shows that more than half out of 16000 people surveyed said they wanted their virtual environments to deliver a more human experience.2

Delivering a seamless and personalized customer experience across touchpoints easily addressed with a comprehensive digital infrastructure. By applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to reams of customer data, organizations can gain better insights into customer behavior, and use them to formulate their customer engagement strategies. Increasingly organizations are integrating cutting edge technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality with some key functions. For example, Commonwealth Bank in Australia launched an AR based app that allows customers interested in buying real estate to scan and explore properties near them.3 From getting all the information including median price, demographics, area profile to actually touring the property remotely, the app allows it all. Transforming digitally is no longer a “good to have” initiative. It is a business imperative for not only addressing increasing competition but also ensuring resiliency, continuity, and growth. A digital infrastructure is essential for fully understanding and delivering on customer expectations.

The question of ethics and empathy go a little deeper than just technology. From customer service to social responsibility to employee welfare, brands must now make good on their promises. If customers are to trust the brands they engage with, they need to see visible concrete action that reiterates the empathetic values and vision established by the brand. e-Commerce giant eBay did just that at a time when the pandemic related lockdowns were sounding the death knell for small businesses. eBay launched an accelerator program for SMEs called Up and Running, which provided them a free e-commerce platform to continue their business.4 The program even helps with marketing and advertising tools and offers shipping discounts to help them survive this unprecedented crisis. Sometimes, empathetic business models may require a relook at existing structures, processes, and infrastructure. For example, when the pandemic shut down life as the world knew it, Verizon stepped up to offer free data to customers to help them study, work, collaborate and socialize online. They even provided resources for online learning to educators and students. This ranged from free resources for kids, access to educational sites, tools from the Child Mine Institute and even free access to the New York Times for high school students and teachers.  Empathy led actions and initiatives like these go a long way in establishing and deepening customer trust in a brand. And as we all know, customer trust is the key to long term loyalty and business growth.

Empathy forms the basis of human connections and social engagement. And it is only natural that it is now moving into the world of business as well. After all, what is a business without the humans who power it and the people who buy from it. Discover how this empathy led business narrative will shape up at Confluence 2021, SunTec’s annual event. Do join the conversation to know more about the trends that will shape business in the future. Register here:https://www.suntecgroup.com/events/suntec-confluence-2021/

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Premjith Alampilly

Premjith Alampilly leads Product Marketing at SunTec. He has more than 18 years of experience, managing products, marketing, and partnerships across enterprise and consumer businesses. He brings with him the experience of working with some of the leading brands in enterprise technology like Oracle Financial Services, Wipro Technologies and India’s leading EdTech brand – Manipal Global. He did his MBA from Rajagiri School of Management and is certified in Digital Transformation from MIT Executive Education. A sports enthusiast, he has represented his state cricket teams before starting his corporate career.