Oisin LunnyOisin LunnyDecember 7, 2017
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7min464

Empathetic interactions are all about seizing the countless invisible opportunities to surprise and delight customers by giving them information, engagements ,and experiences they will value at precise moments in exact places.

Mobile messaging is brilliant at that. With an unrivalled reach and ubiquitous appeal, it gives brands from all industries the opportunity to connect with their customers in the personal way they’ve come to expect. Today, we’re seeing businesses of all types, with a variety of objectives, empathetically engage with their customers and receive intense loyalty as a result.

So far in our blog series, we’ve looked at the customer journey through an empathetic lens to define and welcome the ‘Age of Empathy.’ We’ve looked at ‘Closing the Brand-to-Customer Empathy Gap.’ But, how do you put it into practice? Here’s three real-life examples from three different industries.

SMS and empathy is a winning combination

Virgin Trains had a huge problem. Overcrowding at Euston Station in London was making their customers stressed-out and unhappy. The solution? A bit of empathy teamed up with SMS.

Virgin Trains used the power of E2P (enterprise to person) SMS messaging to turn their big problem into a much bigger Customer Experience win.

Euston is one of the UK’s busiest rail stations. It’s got a yearly footfall comparable to Heathrow (about 72 million) and the number of trains arriving there increases every year.

For the individual passenger, it can be a difficult experience. The size of the crowds means that the chance of bumping into other passengers, or getting stuck in people-jams, is high. Long lines at busy ticket barriers can be stressful, as can the 1/3 mile dash from the concourse to some carriages.

Either way, people are battling through a crowded environment at the same time as worrying they’ll miss their train.

That’s why Virgin Trains implemented Project Surge, a simple and effective mobile messaging program to ease passenger flows. They send the train platform and seat number to every passenger who booked their ticket online, and to those who need a bit more time to board.

This happens over a minute before the train platform comes up on the main departure board, and because SMS messages are typically read within seconds, this lead group gets a head start. The remaining passengers also benefit from the fact that there are fewer people boarding simultaneously, so there are no queues, no crush, no stress, and everyone boards quicker.

It’s a huge Customer Experience upgrade thanks to its empathetic design, and it comes with the added perk of positively affecting the bottom line. Online ticket sales have increased, and Virgin Trains had a 28 percent Net Promoter Score increase six months after the program started. Win win.

RCS to revolutionise the Customer Experience

RCS (Rich Communication Services), aka upgraded SMS, is text messaging for the smartphone age. It gives businesses even more options to interact with customers when using mobile messaging.

While it’s useful across many verticals and horizontals, retail Customer Experience professionals in particular will be excited by RCS’s rich media properties such as pictures, video, loyalty cards, coupons, and carousel-like browsing and electing options. RCS also comes with “action buttons” which allow a customer to confirm a purchase, or track a package, directly from their messaging inbox.

The best way to appreciate the potential of RCS is to imagine the rich functionality of a communication app such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but all taking place in the most used feature of any mobile smartphone, the SMS inbox.

RCS is also custom built for business to consumer interactions. Brands will have a “trustmark” in partnership with the mobile phone networks This will close down any opportunity for spammers to masquerade as brands, as is too often the case on OTT apps and email.

RCS gives customers what they need, when they need it, without having to download an app for each of the brands they want to interact with on their mobile devices.

While RCS is still in its early phases, as more carriers get onboard and offer its empathetic solutions, we’ll see more customer-obsessed brands promoting its rich capabilities.

Chatbots add a personal touch. It’s true!

Chatbots are a prime Customer Experience initiative that are still catching on with brands and CX professionals to offer the kind of personal B2C interactions that today’s consumers are looking for. On top of providing quick and efficient service, chatbots are also capable of adding personality to the mobile messaging conversation.

A recent OpenMarket survey on chatbots revealed that out of a list of key verticals engaging with customers via SMS, the majority of customers (63 percent) want chatbot technology to be implemented into their bank or financial institution.

This is attributable to a few things, but most notably customers’ needs for real time updates. Chatbots and mobile messaging solutions can extend the relationship between bank and customer way beyond their traditional opening hours, and fixed geographic locations.

It’s important to remember that while empathy is an inherent human quality, businesses need to act with empathy as well. If you put empathetic interactions at the forefront of your customer experience model, you will build meaningful relationships that survive and thrive.


Oisin LunnyOisin LunnyOctober 10, 2017
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6min392

Now that we’re well acquainted with the ‘Age of Empathy, let’s dive into what this means for brands.

According to Belinda Parmar, founder of The Empathy Business, recent findings by the 2016 Empathy Index reveal that empathy is “more important to a successful business than it has ever been.”

In addition to the financial benefits businesses can reap through the incorporation of empathy in customer interactions, they can leverage an empathetic mindset to win over customers as well.

We know brands want to better interact with customers in order to deliver the best overall experience, but the question is, how do they do it? Customer-obsessed brands use smart tools to close the brand-to-customer “empathy gap,” all the while delivering an optimal, personalised experience.

Are brands embracing empathy?

Successful brands know that when it comes to winning and retaining customers, personalisation is key. But there’s a massive difference between a brand that personalises, and one that is personal.

Personal brand interactions thrive because they’re in touch with a customer’s thoughts, emotions, and decisions, enabling them to be there when they’re needed most. If a brand can be a constant problem-solver for customers when it counts, it earns itself loyalty and advocacy in return.

Outdated customer service strategies such as automated voice systems and emails that result in spam may have been great for their time, but they fail to keep up with today’s consumer. Brands that are tapped into modern needs take advantage of the simple, yet effective text message. With 4.8 billion people using SMS, the power cannot be overlooked when delivering empathetic, grade-A customer engagement.

Empathy in action

One brand which is harnessing the power of SMS to show customers it cares is Club Mahindra, owner of 40-plus luxury resorts in India and across the world.

Club Mahindra is the epitome of a customer-obsessed brand. It strives to consistently provide unforgettable holiday experiences for each and every one of its 200,000 members.

The Club Mahindra team found that the most crucial time to ask for feedback from its customers was within 30-minutes of check out, when their memories are fresh and their smartphones are near. What better way to reach them in this golden moment than with an immediate and convenient SMS. Via text? Club Mahindra’s response rates skyrocketed – 140 percent to be exact.

The benefits illustrated in this use case exemplify the two-fold benefits of Empathetic Interactions through texting. Not only do Club Mahindra’s customers get their needs met within a single moment, but the company has a chance to respond immediately to feedback, which ultimately leads to a stronger bond between the company and its customers.

Engagement through the empathy lens

Club Mahindra is just one of thousands of use cases that highlight the success of SMS – countless banks use SMS to secure online banking transactions and alert customers about potential vulnerabilities and fraud. Airlines use them to send pertinent travel alerts, and logistics companies use them to arrange deliveries and ensure items are received.

Companies that view customer engagement through the empathy lens have turned to SMS-based alerts to keep in touch and ensure their customers are getting what they need, when they need it. If a brand is there for their customers when it counts, it can get enormous benefits, like increased customer loyalty and brand advocacy, in return.

Getting empathy right

In today’s digital era, surveys show a disconnect between what customers want, and what brands offer. In fact, according to Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research, the overreliance on digital, impersonal customer services are actually pushing customers away.

This is where Empathetic Interactions come in. As consumers continue to be on the move, texting will be a driving force that unites and personalises how brands engage with their customers. Now is the time for every business to seize the opportunity to surprise and delight customers through exceptional experiences.


Oisin LunnyOisin LunnyAugust 25, 2017
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7min991

In today’s digitally connected society, it’s more important than ever to understand and properly demonstrate empathy.  According to Belinda Parmar, CEO of The Empathy Business, empathy is just as important in business communications as it is in personal communications. Empathy should shape how you get a delivery update on the package you just ordered, how you obtain status updates for an upcoming flight, or receive a confirmation number from a hotel concierge service.

Belinda’s research has proven that the more empathetic a company is, the better they perform in terms of growth, earnings and productivity. Corporate empathy, far from being an oxymoron, actually has a direct impact on a businesses’ bottom line. Unfortunately, this vital tool is not being used enough by businesses in how they communicate with their customers. To appreciate how a business can be empathetic, we need to define the term correctly.

What is Empathy?

Empathy, in the most literal sense, is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another,” according to Webster. What it means in terms of brand-to-customer interaction is effectively communicating what they need, when they need it, in the right way and using the right technology. OpenMarket calls this the Empathetic Interaction™. Sound complicated? It really isn’t—it’s all about getting to know your customers on a deeper level and using what you know about them to anticipate what might make them happy at a precise moment. When a business gets it right they earn the genuine consumer trust, loyalty and advocacy which are the hallmarks of most sustainable businesses today.

Empathy and Respecting the Customer

Needless to say, there can be an overwhelming lack of empathy from many businesses today. At the same time, what people expect from a brand in terms of customer service and experience has significantly risen over the years thanks to digital connectedness.

While we may have unprecedented access to customers today thanks to the availability and immediacy of mobile devices, channels such as voice calls, emails and text messages should be treated respectfully and as a privilege. No one, regardless of the brand in mention, wants brand-to-consumer interactions that are irrelevant sent directly to his or her device.

Why Now?

We know we’re more connected today than ever before in history, but we also know this connection is virtual, and therefore, lacks a certain personal touch. This doesn’t create less of a need for personalization in our day-to-day interactions; it does quite the opposite—it creates a hunger for it. This goes for both personal and business communications. As a brand looking to build lifelong relationships with its customers, the way to not only reach them but keep them is to make each touch point personal, from using a customer’s name, to anticipating and addressing their individual needs, recalling past engagements, or using an appropriate tone for their personality type.

It goes even further than this; it’s about making a customer feel heard. Know what your customers want, when they want, and how they want it delivered.

People of all ages live and breathe via their mobile device, and they thrive on accessibility and convenience. This is where text messaging comes in and the numbers don’t lie: 98 percent of text messages are read, compared to 20 percent of emails. What’s more, 70 percent of all email sent worldwide is spam. In fact, a mere 2% will interact with an email by clicking on a link. This means that almost every recipient is ignoring almost every email sent by every company.

When it comes to voice calls, customer experience isn’t much better. Inbound calls from unknown numbers are seen as intrusive, and avoided. Customers today also get infuriated waiting on hold, or being routed to wrong departments and getting cut off. No one wants to spend 40 minutes listening to a flute solo while being told their call is very important.

The moral to the story is to stand in your customers’ shoes, and actually see their needs using the lens of empathy. They’ll respond with appreciation and earned respect while also becoming more loyal to your brand. Empathy is a “soft skill” for businesses that translates to hard cash by providing the customer experience that modern consumers demand. The tolerance for a bad customer experience using the wrong communication channels is close to zero. By designing around key empathetic moments, companies can get the customer experience right first time, every time.

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