Consumer Behaviour

Empathy and Marketing

After a recent conversation with my friend, the Customer Service Genius, I’ve started to realize that the real key to marketing is empathy. I’ve been blogging a lot about the difference between manipulation and persuasion.  The difference between the two is really about the relationship.  Manipulation is about achieving your own interests, while persuasion is about meeting both your needs and those of the party that you are communicating with. 

The Genius pointed out to me recently that customer service requires empathy, the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, feeling what the customer feels and experiences. But being customer centric is challenging. Just ask any large company, and they’ll tell you they are customer centric.  But then you ask them to do something out of the ordinary, and you will often hear “no”.  And that “no” is driven by short term profit objectives. Many companies have turned customer service into a cross-selling, up-selling, profit centre.  While this makes sense to help customers find products they truly want, it can also be an environment of over-persuasion, as customers are sold things they don’t want or need.  Over time, customers begin to resent the game.   

While short term profit objectives are necessary, if they erode customer trust over time, they may end up being self-defeating. Selling a customer something they don’t need or want might make sense in the short term, but in the longer term, may end up damaging the business.  And it is precisely this type of tactic that has the general public thinking that marketing is evil and manipulative.  Perhaps because it is.

So my question for you is, Is this in my customer’s best interests as well as my own?  If you can’t honestly answer “yes” to this question, then maybe you have some thinking to do?  Are you mortgaging your organization’s future for short term profits? As a customer, do you want to experience this kind of service?  If the answer is no, it’s time to change your strategies.

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Categories: Consumer Behaviour

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