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.

TravTalk - Middle East - - GUESTCOLUMN -

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

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