Some people, significantly more than others, feel how other people feel.

They have such an ability to identify with other human beings that they really seem to live others’ experience in terms of seeing, feeling, judging: as if they had the same thoughts, the same vision of the world, the same friends, the same age…

recitazione..This happens to the actor who not only lives his character when he plays, but also during the previous months when he steps into the character itself. It is experienced by the entrepreneur who suffers when he sees something done badly for the client in his company. It happens to the waiter who is able to give the right suggestion to the customer as if he knew his tastes and his level of hunger. It occurs to the teacher who really knows what the kid is living. Especially, it is sensationally experienced by lovers: “Only he who loves, knows”, said Saint Augustin. Only he who loves, really knows about the other.

This is the point! Empathy is not only, let`s say, a technical skill (“I know the factors the experience of someone is characterized by”), but it is also a sticky ability. It clings, it wants to consider the experience of other people and act accordingly. Some suggestible people allow the experience of other human beings to cling to themselves. They are willing to be influenced by the life of other people, they are available to have something imprinted inside themselves, something to create for, to act for and to resolve for.

This readiness to be influenced (as lovers perfectly know) is exactly the engine to know the experience of others. In other words, so little is comprehensible about somebody else (client included) without this glue.

The depth of these people’s understanding of us makes us feel overwhelmed – so pleasantly overwhelmed –  in front of them (be it the waiter, the teacher or the entrepreneur). So that this talent to empathize, this impressionability, this willingness to be influenced wins, overcomes us, wins us.

These people become leaders of Customer Experience: feeling on their skin the experience the client lives, they can work to offer an ultimate Customer Experience. In fact, Customer Experience is a question of method and of identification.

The method is just about engineering: a strict formalization of the brand promises, a research to know the clients, a map of every touchpoint and all occasions of client-brand relationship, an analysis of client’s needs and desires and finally a realization of an easy and pleasant offer to respond to them.

Yet, this is not enough: the quality of this engineering job needs empathy to reach to an ultimate Customer Experience.

This is the latest news of the Age of the Customer: identification does not happen with clustering but with the real experience the client himself lives.

In the Age of Marketing and Information, the one we have just left behind according to Forrester Research, it was necessary to strictly define the characteristics of each customer cluster in order to adequately segment the offer. Today, in the Age of the Customer, which is characterized by the possible access to an infinite and multichannel offer, the strategic leverage is exactly the living and concrete experience the client lives when he engages with the brand.

For this reason, this talent to empathize becomes a decisive factor of selection. This is true not only for professionals dealing with Customer Experience and sales or service tasks closed to the client, but also for the protagonists of the overall company ecosystem, including the back office, who need to act accordingly to an outside in and client-centric approach.

Of course, this talent to empathize with the client depends on many factors such as experience, education, culture, personality and character. Modern generations of tests allow to predict and measure this increasingly important ability with a surprising reliability.

Mario Sala

Italian Customer Intelligence, together with the neuroscientist Giovanni Sartori from the University of Padua and with Demetrio Macheda, author of the bestseller “SkillView Model: evaluation and development of talents”, suggests a test for evaluating the empathic ability and the related skills. The test will be very soon available for News & Customer Experience’s readers.

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