The Future of Customer Experience Insights: Empathy, Not Metrics

By: Lisa Sigler

January 30, 2015

Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management

The Temkin Group recently released a new Insight Report titled, “The Future of Customer Experience Insights: Five Trends That Will Redefine the Role and Value of Customer Feedback and Insights.”  The trends outlined in the report give organizations a roadmap to follow to get the most value out of their Voice of the Customer programs.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at these trends one by one.

Trend #1: Deep empathy, not stacks of metrics.

Do you remember Star Trek? Not the new one, the old one. The one with mini-skirts, Styrofoam rocks, and late-sixties idealism?

Captain Kirk is a bold, decisive commander of a starship. He unerringly leads his crew through adventure after adventure. The key, however, is that he listens to advice and suggestions from both of his trusted advisors. Spock, the purely logical alien science officer gives him metrics. Bones, the very emotional doctor, gives him insights based on empathy. With guidance from both advisors, Kirk confidently leads the starship.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Quantitative research methods – looking at demographic data, buying trends, and even survey scores – can’t provide any meaningful insight into your customer’s feelings (not to mention allowing you to share those feelings).  However, research demonstrates that emotions heavily influence buying decisions. If you are basing your business decisions solely on metrics, you’re missing a key piece of customer information.

So how do you develop and use empathy? The Temkin Group Insight Report recommends tapping into more qualitative methods to uncover richer insights. The report details five tactics that organizations should deploy to make the shift:

Use more qualitative techniques: Spreadsheets and multiple-choice survey results do not provide the depth of insights you need. Qualitative research, including focus groups, in-depth interviews, and text-based feedback, lets you understand your customers and their feelings better.

Shift resources from tracking studies: Are you acting on the data you’ve already collected to improve the customer experience? Consider using the money you would have earmarked for this year’s customer survey to implement the real changes customers want.

Walk the customer journey: Interacting with your company from your customer’s perspective can be an eye-opening experience. Find ways to replicate the customer journey using technology or simple role-playing to fully understand your customer’s point of view.

Relay customer stories: Internal stakeholders love to see the hard data, but it is equally important to share insights on what the customers are thinking, doing, and feeling throughout their experiences. Sharing anecdotes and quotes from customer feedback makes the data more real and relatable. .

Incorporate qualitative success measures: Positive sentiment scores, the use of words like “easier” or “better,” the ability for customers to explain your offerings in their own words – these are the kinds of qualitative measurements that reflect an improvement in the customer experience and demonstrate that your customers are responding to the empathy you show them.

The heart of these tactics is fairly simple: remember that your customers are real people with human emotions, desires and needs. Take their feelings into account. Develop and implement analytics processes that capture their sentiments, in their own words, and share that information with your organization.

Incorporating empathy opens up the whole customer universe, rather than just a narrow slice. It enables you to make decisive, impactful business decisions.  Use empathy to help you boldly go where your organization has never gone before.

Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.