The Secret to Customer Experience Program Success

By: Lisa Sigler

January 20, 2016

CEM Programs
CEM Solutions
Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback
Sentiment Analysis
Social Customer Care
Social Engagement
social listening
social media

The secret to a successful Customer Experience program isn’t really a secret. In fact, we’ve said it before. In a word: Empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. From a business perspective, it means understanding how you—your brand, your products, your service agents, your advertising, everything about you—make your customers feel.

Your customer experience program will not be successful without empathy because “customer experience” boils down to how customers feel. You can streamline every process, train every employee, and optimize every web page; but if you don’t make your customers feel good about you, then your CX efforts have failed. You have to show empathy, a true understanding of how they feel that is so specific that you feel it, too.

Here are some practical ways that empathy might show up in your customer experience program:

Better survey design. If you care how your customers feel, by all means ask them—but don’t waste their time and try their patience with long, complicated surveys. Keeping your surveys short, targeted, and open-ended not only boosts response rates, but it shows that you value your customers’ time.

Intuitive websites. Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. One Clarabridge customer, an insurance provider, found that their website was a significant driver of frustration because customers couldn’t find the specific information they wanted. Improvements to the site left a better impression, because it proved that the insurance company understood which details their customers cared about.

Social personality. As stated in our Engagor blog, “The way you interact with your customers speaks volumes about your brand’s personality…With the right tone of voice and a clear engagement strategy to fall back on, you can turn any negative situation into a positive one.” Use your social channels to build relationships, close the loop on complaints, offer discounts or other incentives, and act like people who care. Social media is a great opportunity for your customers to interact with your brand on a personal level and not feel like they are working with a corporation. Make sure you take advantage of that. Customers will notice.

People over policies. Empower your front-line employees to make exceptions to your policies and improvise solutions to customer experience problems. When you identify a process that is causing customers trouble, change it. Waive a late fee, allow a return, accept an expired coupon—these small exceptions create a great, memorable customer experience.

Swift, sincere responses. If a customer does have a grievance against you, take care of it quickly. Once an issue has gone viral, even the most sincere comes across as forced and self-serving. Late efforts to make things right backfire because it seems like you are acting to save face rather than in the customer’s best interest.

These are just a few examples of how empathy can influence your customer experience program. Throughout the customer journey there are opportunities to show customers that you understand their feelings and take them into account. Empathy is the best-kept CX secret that you really shouldn’t keep to yourself.


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.