Why is Empathy Important? Three Key Elements to Consider for 2021

by Kelsey Winick

Over the past year, the pandemic has played a major role in the way many executives view their business. Paige O’Neill, Sitecore’s CMO, highlighted the importance of empathy when creating content as we move into 2021 at the recent Gartner Digital Experience Symposium. According to O’Neill, organizations that take an empathetic approach will influence three key factors: customer experience, content, and emotional connection. With these elements, brands will be able to build authentic connections with their customers.

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  1. Customer Experience

Digital responsiveness increased rapidly in 2020 with the rapid reduction of in-person customer service options and the surge of online requests. Looking forward, customers will maintain the level of demand, since “consumers have now learned new behaviors and they have new expectations as a result,” shared O’Neill.

According to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute, “59 percent of consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience,” said O’Neill. “This is important, because the human element is a critical component. As people, we want to feel that human connection with our brands. It is part of what makes us all part of the human race.” Through intertwining empathy into the customer experience, customers will positively receive brands in their digital outreach.

  1. Content

O’Neill highlighted that “if one word has come to the forefront during the pandemic, it has to be the word empathy.” Content allows for organizations to meet the needs of the customer, and, with the right content, brands “show that [they] understand how customers are feeling [,which] is the foundation of a successful customer experience.”

The Content Marketing Institute asked professionals about their strategy for managing content. Of the 250 surveys returned, “50 percent [of the respondents said] the inability to connect with customers is the top factor impacting content strategy success.” Whereas, the 24 percent of those surveyed that have successful content strategies, 84 percent think of content as a way to build loyalty with customers, and 88 percent prioritize audience wants and needs over a desired sales message. This means brands still have a lot of work to be do making content that connects.

  1. Emotional Connection

This year has been a difficult one. By displaying empathy to customers, brands will have the opportunity to create emotional ties designed to strengthen brand loyalty. O’Neill stated that “60 percent of customers talk about brands like family. [We] use the same type of emotional language for our favorite brands as we do for family, friends, and pets. These are words like happy, adore, and love.”

In 2021, these customer connections will be important, since “47 percent will spend more with a brand that they feel treats them like a human.” Because of the pandemic, it is important for brands to acknowledge the struggles that their customers have gone through and provide a customer experience solution that may “inspire action and loyalty and sometimes we even love from customers.”

Through customer experience, content, and emotional connection, brands, and their CMO’s, will be able to maximize growth in the coming years. Additionally, empathy will continue to play a vital role in the course of action brands take in building relationships with their customers.

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