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Exploring What Customer Experience Truly Means Today: And the Impact of Empathy

You have probably experienced some “bad” service issues lately – you go to your favorite fast-food restaurant only to find a 30-minute wait due to staffing issues or sit on hold with your bank being transferred from representative to representative, none of which seem to have the answer you need.

It seems like the pandemic put customer service into a tailspin, though these service issues were likely set in motion well in advance of the arrival of Covid-19. Systems have been tested, staff has been strained and operations platforms have been implemented all in an effort to make the customer service experience better for all parties involved—however it may be a bit of a rocky road to get there.

Omnichannel Elevates Service Expectations…

At the height of the pandemic, lockdowns were imposed and people around the globe adjusted to life that was homebound. Shopping experiences began shifting online and as such expectations evolved. This evolution also required companies to adjust technology to keep pace and it was often met with challenges along the way. An industry study from Talkdesk released in 2021 indicated that more than half of respondents (58%) said their customer service expectations are higher today than they were a year ago.[1]

The expectation for a seamless omnichannel experience goes together with easy service and often if this is not met, customers are very quick to defect. And unfortunately, these disintermediated experiences also lead to less loyal customers. The same study indicated that it takes one bad experience to reduce the loyalty of 68% of customers, with only 14% strongly agreeing that retailers are giving the best customer service possible.

These may all seem like negative indicators that can only spell bad news for the future of customer service but that is certainly not the case. Companies have learned to evolve process and adjust procedures to ensure customers are as satisfied as possible and staff are as content as they can be. Not only have customers become more discerning in their service experiences, but they have also picked up another skill along the way… empathy.

That’s correct- the same customer that is “always right” has learned they need to be more caring and gracious to their fellow man and show more empathy to situations that are largely out of control of the customer service individual’s hands.

…. But Empathy Creates a Common Ground

Where a digitally connected experince may have sought to simplify things, not all may have been solved in the process. Customers may have felt lost or disengaged, yearning for a human touch. And once that human touch was found again in many cases customers were faced with an onslaught of staffing issues that complicated the service experience.

Consumers have been exposed to many things as the pandemic has dragged on, including shortages of labor, supplies, and patience. Seeing this made them truly understand the plight of the customer service representative in a new and different way. Where in the past a customer may think that a service representative is just giving them the run around, they can see what they are truly dealing with—and really feel what the customer service representative is going through. This has led to a interesting scenario in which poor service may still be experienced but the reaction is not anger or frustration, but rather more concern and empathy.

Transparency in the service experience is a positive shift for the customer service representatives themselves, though brand loyalty may be a different story. Customers may still be quick to jump ship in the face of a bad experience and test out experiences with another brand.

Enter the Micro Journey Exploration

One area that we have been asked about time and time again is micro journeys – deep diving into specific subsets of the customer journey to better understand the make-or-break moments that matter the most. Service experiences have become such a vital part of customer journeys that it is imperative to understand the right mix of digital and human interactions that work the best.

In a world of sacrifice and tradeoffs it is important to understand where customers need and value service the most, and then build operations accordingly – we work to uncover these areas and identify opportunities for our clients every day.

Reach out to learn more!

[1] “Retail’s Second Digital Transformation Wave Fueled by Fundamental Change in Consumer Habits.” Business Wire. March 30, 2021.



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