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We have been living in a digitally-led world for some time now, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of nearly every industry. While more services are available online, the need for a human touch in these services is also growing. Edelman’s Trust Barometer The report found that 83% wanted to create “compassionate connections … that convey empathy and support in the difficulties they face”.
True, face-to-face engagement allows people to connect and develop empathy through shared experiences and even nonverbal cues. But how do you show your customers that you know them in the digital world? Here are a few examples of how companies can practice digital empathy by acknowledging user needs and sharing their feelings in a digital environment.
Related: How to Lead with Data-Driven Empathy
Help customers take control
Even in a digital-first world, people still have to use their mobile phones to connect with businesses. Unfortunately, that usually means waiting.according to a study, we have an average of 43 days on the phone waiting to speak to a service agent. This is definitely not a person enjoying wasted time.
So what do you do if your client needs a consultation from a service agent from time to time? How do you ensure their questions are answered and wait times are kept within a reasonable range?
For example, you are an insurance provider and customers call your contact center to file an insurance claim. Anyone who has done it before knows how stressful this can be – on the one hand, if someone makes an insurance claim, it means they have suffered some form of damage or loss. Now they have to contact an agent because the process needs help, which leads to more stress.
At the same time, there is a certain algorithm behind insurance claims submission: certain steps need to be taken, certain documents need to be submitted. In addition, there are typical problems that can be categorized and thus automated. In fact, a conversational, AI-powered bot can effectively guide customers through the claims process until the issue is resolved. If the bot is struggling to help, it can always divert the query to a human agent. This way, you save your clients time and help them gain more control over themselves.
Related: The Complete Guide to AI for the Enterprise and How it Works
always offer options
While conversational AI automation works great for some, others are reluctant to adopt it for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the nature of the business does not allow conversational brokering, such as private banking. There are also companies that position themselves as family-owned businesses, so customers expect they can pick up the phone and always be in touch with someone – it’s part of their brand, and customers value this kind of personalized service. At the same time, it has to be admitted that some people just don’t like talking to robots.
But no matter how hard you try to provide a truly personalized experience, there will never be enough staff to do that. Customers are always unable to reach your contact center. So even if you are against bots, you can still use conversational AI to increase efficiency and improve user experience (UX). So instead of solving the problem, the bot can simply notify the caller that the agent is busy and schedule a callback. When integrated with a contact center system, the bot finds the relevant time, lets the customer choose a time that works for them, and then gets some basic context for the agent. That way, well-prepared agents will call back at their convenience to help customers resolve issues, while providing your customers with choice and improving the overall experience.
Create a customer-first web experience
Conversational design can add a human element to a web experience in a number of ways.As a rule, modern digital customers spend no more than 30 seconds Look for the necessary information on the website and leave if you can’t find it.
But what if you turned the information discovery process into a friendly conversation? There are plenty of examples of fully conversational websites where you can ask or type any question about the company and get it answered, or you can get a web navigation assistant to handle the most confusing or common questions. When you help customers find what they need online faster, you’re one step closer to building a digital bond with them.
Related: Conversational AI vs Chatbots: What’s the Difference?
Become a true omnichannel
However, brand touchpoints are not limited to websites and contact centers. Researchers Indicates that 73% of customers use multiple channels during the buying process. This means that in order to remain competitive, businesses should unify their channels and try to better understand customer behavior.
Switching between channels still feels like a broken phone game for many brands. For example, a person applies for a mortgage loan at a bank office. While processing their application, they were bombarded with calls from this bank offering car loans. Often, even if the person asks the agent about a service they’re really interested in, they get another call a few days later about a car loan offer. As a result, no one gets what they want. So, the better you understand your customers’ needs, the better engagement you can create.
Ignite empathy at scale
But what if an organization is looking for empathy from its audience? For example, if you’re a charity or nonprofit, how do you get potential donors to empathize with those in need? It’s hard to empathize with abstract concepts and stigmatized groups, or to avoid it altogether, especially in digital places.
It’s much easier to empathize with someone’s personal experience, so you can take a person’s story and share it with a lot of people on YouTube or TV — a well-known tactic. But these narratives are somewhat limited because you can’t learn more about them than they already tell you.
If you can have a conversation with them, you’ll ask questions to get more information and more nuanced answers. For a charity to work, you need to have millions of people donating — it’s a numbers game, and you can’t have this person talking to millions. Here comes the bots: they are the perfect tool for creating empathy and telling these interactive stories. Bots allow you to expand conversations and tell interactive stories to millions of people at the same time.
Therefore, adding empathy to customer interactions does not require new employees or complex automation. It’s all about getting to know customers, meeting them at touchpoints of their choosing, and showing those little signs of caring.