Differentiate With Delight
It is important for marketers to remember that empathy is an important factor to be included in their brand experience
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In today's highly competitive and crowded market, businesses try to differentiate their brands through multiple factors such as product features, packaging, online presence, advertisements, discounts etc. but many times they forget an important factor that can be very useful in differentiating their brands from competition and that factor is delight, which means comfort, pleasure, satisfaction.
Let me try to explain my point with personal life experiences that we all would have observed. In this highly crowded world, along with our parents, we remember a few of our doctors, teachers, bosses, friends etc. who were nice with us, understood our problems well, inspired us to achieve bigger goals in life, motivated us during our frustrations, surprised us with their thoughtful actions and so on. We remember these people with delight because they connected with us and shared our emotional state i.e. they were empathetic with us.
Empathy is one of the key factors in delivering delight. It is the ability to understand the perspective, experiences, aspirations, priorities of others and to share their emotional state. Customers are concerned about problems in their lives, their aspirations and solutions from brands. Empathy is a powerful approach in marketing that stresses on building relationships and is very much applicable when we deal with our customers. Steve Jobs, creator of the world's most valuable brand - Apple, said: Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
As an example, when music lovers were facing discomfort of very limited storage space in their MP3 players, slow music transfer from computers to MP3 players, unreliable music downloads from internet etc. Apple understood the gaps in available options and came up with the ecosystem of iPod, iTunes application, iTunes store, firewire cable for faster music transfers and so on. Apple made it possible for people to carry 1,000 songs in their pockets, changed the dynamics of established music industry and changed the way customers used to experience music. Apple has understood many unstated needs of its customers and has delighted them through experiences at Apple stores and with its other products.
When marketers look at people only as customers, they try to engage them through promotions of their products, discounts etc. We can imagine this point through our experience with unwanted & interrupting marketing calls and messages. But when they look people as humans and empathize with them, they build relationships that could turn strangers into loyal customers. We can connect this point through our experiences with brands, whose employees would have understood our point of view and would have taken extra efforts to deliver our parcel or would have guided us properly in our shopping or would have greeted and treated us well.
When employees have empathy with their customers, they find it easier to handle customers and find opportunities to delight them. I would like to share an example from Domino's pizzas. At one of the Domino's pizzas outlet in Guwahati, a 4 year old child had vomited on his pizza, this created embarrassment for the mother as there were many other customers around. One of the Domino's employees acted quickly, cleaned the table, took the child to washroom and helped him clean up, got mother and child seated at another table and helped them in other possible ways.
Empathy helps in understanding how customer behavior and expectations are evolving, how they live, their deep needs, experience they value and difference a brand can make in their lives. As an example, Four Seasons hotel understood needs of its customers and introduced many new customer focused innovations in hotel industry such as shampoo bottles in every room, fitness centers, no-smoking floors, overnight sandal and shoe repair, 24-hour room service, complimentary newspapers with room service breakfast delivery etc. and delighted its customers. Another example is Facebook's Empathy Lab, which gives Facebook engineers the chance to experience for themselves how customers will use their products, even if customers are visually impaired or have listening challenges.
All the customers are not same, they all have different expectations, preferences, emotional states, intelligence level, age, technology awareness, experiences and challenges. It's not only the product, but the person who shows and sells the product also matters. His passion, energy, empathy with customer make a lot of difference. To make sure that employees show empathy with customers, businesses have to be empathetic with their employees. If employees are knowledgeable about their brands, passionate about customer experience, respect their customers, listen to them, keep their commitments, and make them feel special then brands' perception and preference enhance in customers' mind.
When employees are connected and collaborative, customer experiences are improved leading to better relationships, more trust and eventually more market share. Google through its Project Aristotle studied hundreds of Google's teams and figured out that in the best teams, members listen to one another and show sensitivity to feelings and needs.
Like employees, vendors also play a very important role in brands' success. Quality and on time delivery from vendors help brands in building relationships with their customers. If businesses are empathetic with vendors, understand their challenges, pay them on time and align them with the business objectives, then vendors also give their best quality output and even accommodate urgent requests.
It is important for marketers to remember that empathy is an important factor to be included in their brand experience. They can definitely differentiate their brands through features and promotions, but through empathy they can delight customers and differentiate their brands in terms of perceptions, preferences and personal connection.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.