A businessman sticking post its in empathy map
PHOTO: Adobe

According to a recent global survey from PWC, 75% of consumers say that as technology improves, they’ll want to interact with humans more. The reasoning behind this is likely due to what another study reveals: PWC Consumer Intelligence believe companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.

No matter your business model, your customers have one overarching need: the desire to feel seen and heard. The pandemic has been a huge catalyst for increasing digital engagement. With the benefits of increased convenience, accessibility, and flexibility established, there’s no going back. The companies who are able to convey genuine human care across digital spaces — digital empathy — will be the ones who retain customers, gain new ones, and turn them all into advocates.

That’s why, whether you’re scrambling to start a digital transformation or accelerating one that’s already underway, providing a human-centered customer experience should be your driving force.

Digital Empathy Requires Customer Insight

In the digital realm, data is the primary way to listen to your customers. Whatever platform you use for digital engagements, it should automatically gather both explicit and implicit signals about your customers, such as:

  • Who they are (demographic information)
  • Their behavior and interests (channels and devices used, visit frequency, content consumed)
  • What motivates them (purchases and other commitments)

Of course, insight is only as beneficial as it is actionable. To put the above customer insight to use, you need to have outlined your customer journey and begun the process of segmenting your customers. Some platforms offer machine learning capabilities that support this, or even do much of it for you. But even the most sophisticated platforms require some upfront work.

Solving for the Full Lifecycle

When it comes to customer journeys, starting with a holistic, customer lifecycle marketing approach is best. This approach recognizes the importance of each stage of the customer journey:

Awareness -> Research -> Evaluation -> Purchase -> Use -> Advocacy

While today’s customer journeys aren’t as linear as the path above, the point is recognizing the importance of each stage and their connection. As marketers, most of us are used to focusing on the first three phases — awareness, research, and evaluation. But the last three are just as critical, and Sitecore can offer real value in each.

Southeast Toyota Finance provided a Toyota Example of the benefits of rethinking the later stages of a customer lifecycle in their breakout session recently at this year’s all-digital Sitecore Symposium. They took the time to revamp the lowest point of a customer’s journey, late-stage debt collection, using customer experience best practices. They quickly rolled out a pilot program, which sought to treat their customers with the dignity and respect they deserved. Their compassionate approach improved the customer experience and increased initial payments by 72% and promises to pay by 700%. Unsurprisingly, the pilot program was expanded for more customer and business benefits.

“Marketing isn’t always about setting up the next sale,” said David Kovner, EVP of Client Services at Verndale, who worked with Southwest Toyota Finance to implement their unique solution. “We can be problem-solvers who drive revenue and long-term loyalty.”

Reimagining your customer journey is an organization-wide effort. One team Marketing can’t do without is IT. Learn more about how Marketing and IT can connect to form the central pillar of your organization’s digital initiatives.