Each sale can be described as a journey with many opportunities and obstacles along the way. Potential customers must work through the discovery, research, and action stages before making a purchase. Some buyers are more adventurous, making it to the action stage quickly, but most customers take much longer to commit. The entire process, from recognizing their need to solve a problem to committing to purchase, is known as the customer journey. It is a dangerous time, with many opportunities to lose a potential customer, but it is also during this time when a huge impact on the end result can occur.
People Buy From People
Once you commit to the idea that your customers, and I mean individuals and the people that make up complex organizations and decision-making processes are, in fact, real people, the faster you’ll be on your way to creating loyal connections. Contemporary customer research requires that we understand both the professional and personal environment of the customers. It does a marketer no good to know everything about the professional pain points of a potential client and completely ignore the real-world fact that your customer is a single parent of two. Life is complicated and business decisions aren’t entirely rational unless you start to understand all of the competing factors that motivate behavior. A client in a high-pressure job has no time for your qualification shenanigans. How will you make them look good to their colleagues and superiors? How will you make life easier for them? If your customer insights research process involves creating “personas”, fictional stories about potential customers, you’re 72.4% more empathetic.
Making it as easy as possible for prospects to advance from the discovery phase all the way to a purchasing decision is an essential part of running a profitable business. There are many disagreements among marketing experts over the best methods for helping customers to do this, but there is one technique which is often neglected: demonstrating customer empathy.
Think of it this way, no matter how efficiently you’ve engineered a purchasing process, it’s always easier to win and keep a customer who believes that you both understand their problems and share their values. Being relevant is often the most important business development strategy that a company can invest in.
However, empathy is a more involved process than understanding a customer’s psychological disposition and leveraging a few, choice industry buzzwords.
Empathy is not only understanding how another person feels, it requires that they believe that you understand. That’s a nuanced and important distinction. Empathy isn’t about Don and Peggy observing customer behavior behind a one-way-mirror. Empathy requires that both parties recognize the other and the other’s perspective. This is a bond. “This is love.” Developing an emotional bond with your potential customers is a profitable technique to drive sales. Everybody wants to feel a connection, and a business which uses this human need can quickly see its bottom line quickly rise.
Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’
– Neil deGrasse Tyson
Can You Manufacture Empathy?
Creating empathy with customers is often called “engineering empathy,” but that doesn’t make the connection inauthentic. Empathy between you and your friend or your spouse is relatively easy, but from a business’ perspective, it is not as simple as recruiting compassionate listeners. We’re trying to drive profits. Engineered empathy is both a culture and a process within an organization that must be harnessed and nurtured.
4 Important Points to Keep in Mind:
Talk To Real Customers
- Develop personas – fictional stories about their professional and personal lives
- Understand their perceptions of others in your industry
- Understand their personal goals and pain points
- Understand their lifestyle, culture, values, and purpose
Follow Their Buying Processes
An easy way to gain learn more about the customer experience is to pretend you are a new customer and go through the same process he might use to discover, research, and purchase your solution. In order to more accurately learn how customers interact with your sales process, it is a good idea to ask for the help of someone who is not involved in your business.
As the person moves through the process, identify the key decisions, frustrations and accomplishments that they encounter throughout the sales cycle. As for feedback and recommendations.
Use this information to help you to understand how customers view your sale cycle, and to identify any bottlenecks or dead-ends in the process. Use this information to find new ways to make it easier for customers to buy from you.
Mapping Empathy to Visualize Customer
Before you can sell to your customers, you have to understand what they want, and what is stopping them from getting it. Many companies struggling with sales have a poor understanding of what drives their potential customers. Copyblogger offers a unique way to serve your customers better, and to develop a meaningful profile to help your company develop a marketing plan. It is called an empathy map.
An empathy map is as simple as it is effective. Starting with a large square divided into four quadrants, your goal is to identify the following activities: Thinking, Feeling, Doing, Seeing. Two separate boxes, Pains and Gains, are optional.
Create a large, blank empathy map, and then assemble a panel of people. Try to have a representative from each department in your company, as well as investors, and current customers. Ask your panel questions about your target customers using words related to each box. Write any ideas in the correct quadrant.
Review the empathy with your panel, and then share the results with the rest of your employees.
Use your new insights to solve your customer’s problems.
Remember that It’s About Them, Not You
I know, it’s a cliché, but it’s true! The customer gets to decide what quality is. They customer gets to decide what a fair price is. The customer also gets to decide who can best understand their problems. Sometimes you’re a world-recognized cardiac surgeon, and sometimes you’re the one that the customer feels most comfortable with. Either way, it’s still about understanding what-they-need!