Back February 8, 2017

Customer Care Through Empathy

We talked about how the trend is shifting towards management based on empathy and care. After having shared some insights on how we relate to caring about the team, here’s a view on how this care should be engaged in the customer relationship.

 

Not listening to the customer may be the best thing for him.

Sometimes it is in the customer’s best interest not to listen to his suggestions. It may sound strange, as there is a powerful trend in taking the clients’ feedback and turning it into product/services enhancements. Undoubtedly, it’s the customer need that gives purpose to a business. However, it often happens that what clients think they need may not be what they really need. To be more clear, let us give you the example of the founder of the  HK Austin hostel in Austin, Texas. He decided to ban TV from the common sitting room. Though it is an established practice for hostels to have a TV (and other entertaining technology) and despite the guests’ requests, this particular hostel decided to ignore the trend. Why? Not because the founder just wanted to go against the mainstream, but because he thought it would be in the best interest of his customers to experience socializing with each other, rather than stare at the TV screen, unaware of whom is sitting next to on the couch. As he put it, “people will remember their stay at our hostel; they won’t remember the show they never watched.” A hostel is all about the experience of meeting new people, sharing stories and having fun together.

 

People expect other people to talk to them, even about business.

Consideration and kindness should replace the ”robotic” talk. We need to build conversations as human beings.

In the B2B world, many of us tend to go by the common belief that “business talk” is what potential clients expect to hear and that it triggers the best responses. After all, they are “business people” themselves, so they pay more attention if you talk about “return on investment”, “cost of acquisition”, “growth”. It is true, but only partly. We, as humans, are wired to respond more likely to familiar stimuli. But you know what? Before becoming businessmen and women, those people we are talking to are, first and foremost, people. Just like everybody else. And just like everybody else, they use familiar vocabulary in their daily lives probably more often than the business talk. So why shouldn’t we try to lay aside some of the “technical” terms and try to present our ideas clearly, in a familiar, respectful manner? We need to imagine the people we are talking to, empathize, explain why we do what we do and how it can be a great solution for their business.

 

What do you think? Does it apply to you, as well?

Relating to what we have stated above, some of our clients suggested to us that they would love to be asked these questions once and awhile. We, too, started by telling our story enthusiastically, presenting our proposal quite self-absorbed, to be honest. Then this feedback came and it clicked! Customers expect and deserve our listening and true conversation. This is not limited to words alone; it has to be founded on intention – the intention to find out that person’s opinion, story, particular case. Why? Because you want to give that person a solution, something that works for him/her. Certainly, not all products and services bear such a degree of customizing. But if you pay enough attention, you can build something that your public relates to, something that offers solutions to different problems. You just need to ask and listen. Like a normal person.

 

It’s wrong to expect something in return when you don’t intend to offer.

Most entrepreneurs are very proud of their creative products and services. And so they should be. Still, this pride should not translate into “anyone should be grateful for the opportunity to buy my product.” The solution you provide in the shape of your offer is not a favor. There is a fair trade: you sell, they buy. But customer relationship is more than a financial transaction. It should involve trust, respect, consideration, openness. You are the one requesting your clients’ attention, time, loyalty. Before asking, you should offer. Share something that is equally valuable to you, before asking for these nonfinancial, yet precious assets.  It can be some pieces of advice, your own time to guide them through your product (we do it for our platform, for instance), answering to emails with customized solutions and some extra suggestions.