Understanding the Role of Empathy in Customer Experience


We hear a lot of companies claiming that they are customer-centric organizations. And yet, a huge gap exists between business perception and actual customer experience. That’s why we’re putting a focus on empathy in customer experience.

How many times have you heard an organization claim they have amazing customer service, but your experience is somewhat different? 

The level of frustration among customers is rising. And if there is anything that the recent pandemic has taught us, it’s that business leaders need to put a premium on improving customer experience.

It starts with empathy. But, more on that later… 

What Is a Customer Experience Gap?

Before delving into the impact of empathy in customer experience, we need first to address what a customer experience gap is and why it happens. 

The customer experience gap is the mismatch that exists between what a business offers in terms of customer experience and what the customers want.

In a report published in Harvard Business Review, 73% of business leaders claim that providing a reliable and relevant customer experience is vital to overall business performance. 

But among the over 600 business executives surveyed, only 15% of them rated their customer service strategy as effective. That’s a big gap.

A lot of business organizations have a false assumption that what they have to offer is of value to their customers. That assumption is often based on a guess or even a whim, and more often than not, it leads to a gap between customer expectations and reality. 

This gap can be big or small. It can also exist at any point in the customer journey

The ideal scenario is that there is no gap – or at least it is kept to a minimum. If that isn’t the case, you need to work on bridging that disconnect by showcasing empathy in customer experience.

How Do You Close the Gap?

A waiter’s white-gloved hand holds a silver tray illustrating first class service

Think customers first. 

We get it…

…It’s easier said than done. But it’s all about adopting the right mindset and putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. So, when you think like a customer, you must let go of any preconceived notions about your brand or business so that you can really see things from the customer’s point of view.

Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself questions like:

Better yet, give your customers a survey, so you’re accessing their experience firsthand.

Why Is Empathy in Customer Experience Essential?

A good customer experience demonstrates empathy towards a customer. After all, it’s called customer experience for a reason.

The thing is, most companies are so focused on their key performance metrics, such as revenue growth and bottom line, that they overlook the steps to get there. 

What they are missing is that empathy in customer experience is vital in boosting revenue and optimizing the lifetime value of customers. After all, the only way you can grow your revenue is if you can retain your customers.

A superior customer experience is the key, and empathy is essential in making your customer experience a cut above the rest.

  1. Customers Choose Brands That Genuinely Care About Them 
A businessman stands with his luggage in front of an empty hotel reception desk and makes a gesture to ask why the receptionist isn’t there to help him

To retain your customers and attract new ones, you must demonstrate your genuine care and interest in them. 

That’s why you should never ignore the customer experience gap. It is a good indicator of how well the perception of your brand experience is aligned with the experience your customers have. 

According to a Forbes report, businesses that deliver a poor customer experience lose up to $75 billion per year

Needless to say, customers stop supporting businesses that don’t make customers feel appreciated or are insensitive to their plights. 

  1. Customers Expect Brands to Care About the Community, Too

When it comes to showcasing empathy in customer experience, it goes beyond serving the needs of the individual. Customers choose brands whose values are aligned with theirs.

The trend to adopt empathic practices in the customer service department started well before the pandemic, but it has accelerated in the past year or so. Customers are now seeking businesses that care about the community.

A good example of caring about the community is a  business that offers to donate a similar item to every product you buy to a community member in need. 

  1. Customers Often Shop According to Value

In many cases, customers don’t just buy products or services; they also buy your brand. So, make sure your brand represents values that are in alignment with your customers’ values. 

You can showcase your values through your brand story. Stories draw people in, and by demonstrating your value in your brand story, you can effectively attract customers who are aligned with your values.

Empathy in customer experience can pay dividends. It fosters customer loyalty, and that can help achieve measurable business outcomes. 

Best Practices for Bringing More Empathy into Your Business

The customer journey is a very important aspect of building a successful brand and business. Consistently striving to deliver a positive experience for your customers should be where most of your efforts are focused.

Adherence to the following best practices can make it easier to integrate empathy and close the customer experience gap.

  1. Designate a Team Focused on Delivering the Best Customer Experience

Show your commitment towards delivering empathy in customer experience by designating a team to advocate for this internally. 

Having a customer-centric culture within your organization is vital in making business decisions that will benefit your customers. These decisions must be made at the highest level so that everything else will follow suit.

Most business leaders are tied up with numbers and financial outcomes. That’s why you need a leader whose sole focus is on building customer experience strategies from an empathic angle. And they should look at the entire customer journey, not just the sales point. 

By adopting this approach, you can tailor every touchpoint with the customer in a way that benefits them (and you!).

  1. Every Team Member Plays a Role, Too

Instilling a customer-centricity must be adopted by every member of your team, not just leaders and executives.

Every employee must contribute to delivering empathy in customer experience even if they don’t assume customer-facing responsibilities. 

A good example of this is the team that handles the packaging of customer orders. While they don’t directly interact with customers, their attention to detail in packing orders reflects the brand’s commitment to offering value to their customers. 

  1. Know Your Customers

Even if empathy is at the core of your business DNA, it won’t make sense if you don’t try to identify your customers. 

Collect insights into how your customer experiences your brand at every step of the customer journey. You can seek feedback traditionally or digitally. 

Once you have the customer data, act on it, and keep those customer experience trends and challenges in mind. 

The more you listen to your customers, the more you’ll be able to map out the customer journey and identify your areas of weakness. Pay special attention to the source of personal frustrations. 

At Viral Solutions, we specialize in collecting data and using it to provide insights to improve the way you do business. You can and should put your data to good use so you can develop an empathic brand. 

Final Thoughts

Closing customer experience gaps can bring about higher revenues, promote customer loyalty, and keep your customers happy. It’s time to improve customer interaction and eliminate any disconnect you have with your customers. After all, they are the lifeblood of your business. 

Customers get fed up when dealing with companies that don’t seem to have their back, and you don’t want them to be off and running to your competition. Be the brand that not only solves customers’ problems but makes them feel appreciated and valued, and they’ll stick around.

How big is your customer experience gap? Are you ready to focus on developing empathy in customer experience? Contact us to make it an easy process.


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Shannon Kegerries

Shannon’s deep desire to help others is a trait that was developed early on, as she has always enjoyed seeing people, groups, organizations, companies, and families thrive and make positive changes that encourage growth in all areas. That combined with her love of learning is what drove her to earn her master’s degree in psychology and counseling from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. For more than 15 years, Shannon worked in a variety of settings as a behavioral, family, young adult, and group therapist. As a behavioral therapist and case manager who has worked with people from nearly all walks of life, Shannon has a knack for helping others reach their desired outcomes, which she applies to her work at Viral Solutions as a content marketer. In addition to possessing keen insight into what drives human behavior, Shannon strives to find various ways in which she can relay each client’s message and vision to their prospect so that it hits every angle and sinks into the prospect’s mind. Likening her role to that of a detective, Shannon enjoys gathering information about each client’s prospect and competitor, then fitting it all together with the client’s product/service as the answer to the problem. She is a StoryBrand Certified Guide.

When she’s not working, Shannon enjoys reading, skiing, painting, and spending time with her family.