Navigating economic uncertainty with empathy

Vicky Katsabaris
Vicky Katsabaris 9/1/2022 05:00 PM GMT+08  • 5 min read
Navigating economic uncertainty with empathy
The business value of empathy is extensive. But unlocking it calls for organisations to build authentic relationships with their customers and employees at scale. Photo: Unsplash
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Many organisations across the Asia Pacific are tasked with navigating economic uncertainty.

As they shift their focus towards growing inflation, the rising cost of living and doing business is becoming an increasing concern for local citizens, businesses and government agencies. Add challenges around the race for great talent, rethinking ways of working and finding and keeping loyal customers in post-pandemic landscapes. It is suffice to say that business leaders face a growing list of critical challenges.

Despite the uncertainty, the rewards are enormous for those that get their response right. This is also demonstrated by the companies that led the way during the pandemic.

This sentiment is also shared by the Economic Development Board, which recently touched on the opportunity for Singapore to attract global talent and investment in uncertain markets.

Explaining the power of human empathy

The key to successfully addressing the challenges and grabbing the opportunities ahead is unlocking the power of human empathy in business. Organisations will naturally see top-line and bottom-line impacts by focusing on being more human.

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Today, we are increasingly seeing that people want to work for and do business with companies that can truly understand and deliver against their individual needs.

For example, a Qualtrics research reveals that two-thirds of Singaporean consumers have switched brands because the customer experience did not meet their expectations. Similarly, Qualtrics’ 2022 Employee Experience Trends report found that a culture of belonging, well-being and growth and development are some of the top drivers of retention.

Keeping across what matters most to customers and employees in a fast-changing environment is critical. By staying aligned with people’s changing needs, leaders can take confident and precise action on what matters when it matters at scale.

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A deep understanding of people’s needs means investments can be prioritised and focused on making the most significant impact. It helps adjust business operations without sacrificing retention, culture, or results.

Unlocking the power of human empathy in business

The business value of empathy is extensive. But to unlock it, organisations need to build authentic relationships with their customers and employees at scale.

This shift requires businesses and governments to rethink how they manage relationships with customers and employees, using modern experience management technology to take a more human-centred approach.

Instead of trying to tackle different challenges at the department level — such as marketing, HR or IT – organisations can take a unified and connected approach across the entire company with experience management. After all, your customers and employees do not view every engagement in isolation, and neither should you.

Within this changing approach, there are three capabilities to prioritise:

  1. Listening and understanding

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  • Acting with empathy and speed
  • Proving the business value of empathy

    We already see organisations in the Asia Pacific reap the rewards by leading with empathy.

    At the beginning of the pandemic, one of the region’s biggest telcos supplemented the annual engagement survey with frequent employee pulses. These regular insights enable the company to better understand its employee experience at different moments throughout the employee journey and calendar year, helping inform the actions being taken.

    This shift has significantly impacted business outcomes — improved employee engagement, reduced employee churn, and greater manager effectiveness.

    Significant gains are also being achieved at one of Asia Pacific’s leading financial service providers. By capturing insights at different stages of the customer journey and through multiple channels, the provider uses feedback to continually iterate and improve the products and services in the market.

    Customer feedback is also being used to support employee development, while automated workflows in the platform help the company rapidly resolve issues when a poor customer experience is reported.

    Placing empathy at the centre

    As organisations across the region respond to evolving macroeconomic environments, finding ways to act with empathy must be at the centre of their response.

    The ability to truly understand what matters to customers and employees and then take action when and where it matters is more important than ever. And thanks to the more robust customer and employee relationships it will cultivate — now and into the future — the business rewards of leading with empathy will be long-lasting, sustainable, and significant.

    Vicky Katsabaris is the director of Experience Management Solutions and Strategy for Asia Pacific and Japan at Qualtrics

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