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Build Strong User Relationships Through Empathy

| September 18, 2015
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This is a guest post by Bryan Phelps from InMoment. Enjoy!

Social media has changed the way we connect, with each other and with the brands we love. Over the last 15 years, digital marketing has changed the way many companies interact and engage with customers to create a stronger user experience. One way successful companies are doing that is through empathy.

Empathy is the act of understanding another’s thoughts, feelings, personality, and circumstances to provide them with better service and to meet their individual needs. If you want to succeed in business and nurture your user relationships, empathy is the skill you will want.

So, how are brands using empathy to connect with customers?

Through user testing, brands can measure a product to see if it meets its intended purpose or specific goal to better serve the customer. By incorporating user testing along with general human-computer interaction measurements, companies can better connect and engage with their customers on an emotional level.

Two examples where empathy was done successfully was with the Procter & Gamble and Google Chrome campaigns.

Example 1: Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble used empathy in their Thank You Mom campaign. Throughout the campaign, they acknowledged everything mothers have done and continue to do for their children. By telling the story of mothers, Procter & Gamble was able to connect with people on a personal level, touching on those special moments parents experience with their children, and moved past just selling their product.

Example 2: Google Chrome

Google Chrome is another brand that used empathy successfully to connect with fathers. In their campaign, Dear Sophie, Google Chrome shows the tender moments to create an emotional connection with parents; watching their children grow up and wanting to preserve those memories. By empathizing with people, Google Chrome built a strong connection with their customers that went deeper than the product and services.

In both campaigns, Procter & Gamble and Google Chrome use their understanding of their customers to create a campaign that spoke to them. When you connect with your customers through empathy, everyone wins.

Tips for building empathy

Take time to actively listen to and engage with your customers. Create an empathy map to help you and your team brainstorm ways you can build a stronger relationship with your customers. During this exercise, look at these four different aspects of the customer experience:

  • Thinking: Looking at your customer’s hopes and dreams, asking what’s on their mind and how they perceive themselves
  • Seeing: What do they see for their community? What’s missing from their environment?
  • Feeling: How do they express their feelings? Are they public or private in sharing their experiences?
  • Doing: What are their daily habits and rituals? What gets them going in the morning?

One way to do this during the user experience is to create opportunities to engage with your customers. Be creative, brainstorm with your team, and go outside the box to start a conversation with your customers to connect with them on their level. Use current events and other trends to pull inspiration from, and pay attention to your customers’ responses. By acknowledging the four different aspects of the customer experience, as mentioned above, you can anticipate their needs, wants, and concerns to be more proactive for better service.

Promoting empathy

In addition to empathizing with your customers, take time to spread empathy across your company. Provide user-centered training to new hires and encourage everyone to participate in the idea process. Some questions to consider in the user experience are:

  • How did your last project help people who interact with the product?
  • What problems did you run into during your last project? How did you solve them?
  • What kind of user experience do you want to create for the customer?
  • In which way(s) does the product/app help the customer?
  • What do you love best about the product/app? What do other customers love about the product/app?

As you pull in your team, along with stakeholders and other key participants, to brainstorm and find ways to create a great user experience, take a moment to download and print out the empathy map to give out to all the members of the team or write your ideas and thoughts on a large whiteboard.

The important thing is at the end of the day the customer feels like they’ve been heard. One way to do that is to take a moment to stop and really listen to what they are saying through empathy.