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Could Empathy Add Value to Brand Experience?

love my shoes20 years ago, Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence sparked a revolution in the way businesses communicated with customers. Emotional intelligence is the ability to relate and empathize with others, with the goal of enabling positive interactions – and Goleman’s principles are still the cornerstone of many leadership courses around the world.

Goleman’s proposition is that it takes that seemingly simple concept of empathy to become an emotionally intelligent executive, business or brand. In practice, businesses must humanize their brands and customer contacts – and demonstrate repeatedly to customers that they understand and appreciate their wants and needs.

Applied to marketing, this philosophy translates to ideas like “It’s not the message you say, it’s what the recipient hears.” Or, “Features don’t sell; solutions to real problems do.”

Mixing empathy into an increasingly automated marketing world might seem incongruent. After all, the idea of automation is to take the human effort out of production. However, automation doesn’t mean de-humanize your strategy. It seems that the time has come to tap one of the core principles of emotional intelligence: The idea that every customer relationship is the sum of every one of the interactions that came before. Advanced data analytics and marketing automation tools are designed to help you capture, understand and, most importantly, act on the collective experience that each person has with your brand.

Once you get started, you can quickly see how adding emotional intelligence – automated or manual – to your marketing will improve the customer experience. Consider these types of opportunities:

  1. Provide call center reps with information about past purchases, past complaints (and reslolutions) and loyalty status. Make a recommendation for the next best offer (NBO) or thank you offer based on the real and recent experience of that person.
  2. Use dynamic content curation tools to customize every outbound campaign and web landing page to improve the connection with each individual – particularly returning customers.
  3. Customize the message of your home page based on past visits. Just as someone returning to a store would be recognized and welcomed by the sales associate, our website can be the most “human-like” of all our online channels.
  4. Listen to high value and loyal customers via a “fast action” Twitter list/group, so that anything they tweet about your brand or about a solution you provide can be responded to rapidly and appropriately. Their influence will amplify your response – good or bad.
  5. Employ storytelling. Consumers rely more on emotions than intellectual reasoning when making a purchase decision – by a ratio of 3-to-1 on television and 2-to-1 through printed content, according to this Psychology Today article. Brands that incorporate strong storytelling into their strategy bond with consumers through personal feelings and experiences.

TopRight’s brand strategy recommendations and our Customer BuyWay solution always rely on three things: Authenticity, Clarity and Story. Making sure your brand interactions – and your automated marketing campaigns – demonstrate true empathy and emotional intelligence, will help move your company to the #TopRight.

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