Empathy Economy brings purpose
Companies have to think exponentially if they want to solve big challenges for the larger community. This requires a diametric shift in their mindset towards customers and life.
Empathy is the new currency for progress
In recent years, there has been constant evolution in the world of consumer marketing. The focus has transitioned from a push strategy, where organisations create products and then promote them to buyers, to a pull strategy, where the idea is to draw customers to seek out a product willingly.
Today, the new breed of business is hinged on relevance and purpose - relevance for customers, relevance for companies themselves, as well as viz-a-viz the world and community at large. This has led to an interesting concept of Empathy Economy—an economy that is human-centric and values empathy, placing it at the core of all activities and business. It is an ethos that drives the pull strategy, by truly adapting to the needs of the customer.
Improving people’s lives
What we need today is an overarching need to produce value by engaging customers and create personalised experiences for them. However, the dilemma sits right at the core of doing business – our approach and mentality to the concept of buying and selling. By putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes, we are able to deliver a heightened level of personalisation and relevance to them.
According to SAP, empathy towards customers should guide the culture and design thinking across an organisation and the way technology is created in favour of your end customers. Empathy strategy is more about a major shift in the mindset, focussed on close learning from customers. Personalisation on the other hand, is focussed on selling more to customers. An empathy economy balances such a ‘buy and sell’ model with a focus on improving peoples’ lives.
Connecting people digitally
Everything starts with connecting people. Digital transformation is a tool to connect and establish a uniform view of relationships. Since people are aggregating and converging on digital platforms, so too is the heart of customer relationship. At the top of this value chain is the Digital Core.
What makes a company empathetic?
The empathetic considerations into a basic technology framework are: understand, inspire fulfill, trust and freedom. Never before have people been understood as much by technology before as now. One can understand how to inspire the customer by learning from information shared by the customer. Similarly, hyperconnectivity would enable fulfillment, the platform economy would create meaning, while smart contracts would represent trust. And for all these elements to be in place, we need to find an integrating application to service the customer with the objective of helping him ‘lead a meaningful life’.
Reimagining customer relationships
Every customer relationship starts with inspiration. However, without fulfillment, customers would get very frustrated. This is where hyper-connectivity steps in to enable true fulfillment. A classic example I’d like to describe is the Harley Davidson case. The company decided to gather community information to create personalised bikes for its customers. Using advanced digital technologies on the shop floor that connected systems, Harley was able to manufacture customised products at the efficiency of mass production to give customers what they want, when they want it, while streamlining the supply chain. This became a simple and meaningful relationship for customers, despite the complexities involved in integrating this experience. What Harley really did was to show care through personalisation, by capturing that ‘high’ of differentiation that customers experience when purchasing a customised Harley. By reimagining how they traditionally viewed customers of bikes and acknowledging it as an emotional purchase, HarleyDavidson managed to reinvent their brand.
Going a full circle
If we want to go full circle in the customer relationship value chain, following fulfillment comes last mile delivery. A global leader in travel accessories found that their customers were expecting day delivery as an outcome of buying from the brand. To meet this need, the company integrated their delivery services with Uber RUSH, thereby ensuring that this actually happened. Turning the concept on its head, the store became the warehouse and Uber became the last mile connectivity supplier. This is what one can call a clever leverage of resources, because it makes the experience more meaningful to customers who are always on the move. By taking the pain of delivery out of the way for themselves, the company also cut out on waiting time for the customer.
Empathy works inside out
Empathetic enterprises preserve and refine their intuition, and lead with empathy, despite the deluge of ‘big data’ that seeks to quantify human relationships. It traverses the fundamental chasm that exists between natural human behaviour–which can often be sentimental and equally unpredictable–and the design of organisations, which is rational, resultsoriented and consistent. The empathy economy is not just about customers. It is about pursuing an ideal. By connecting all these stakeholders in a meaningful experience, digitisation and automation can inspire everyone to aspire to a higher ideal. An empathetic business caters not only to actual human needs but also aspires to a greater purpose of improving the human condition.
What we need today is an overarching need to produce value by engaging customers and create personalised experiences for them. However, the dilemma sits right at the core of doing business – our approach and mentality to the concept of buying and selling
(The views expressed are solely of the author. The publication may or may not subscribe to the same.)
Pedro S. Pereira Head of Digital Innovation SAP MENA