I have just read an interesting article from a contributor on LinkedIn that I love. Her name is Liz Ryan. She writes with such inspiration from the heart and her illustrations are great too! I hope you will read her latest blog in which she discusses; ‘How to get naked, win friends and influence people’. Read it here. It certainly gives us food for thought!
We all have personal branding – with our current job title or our industry designation and put on huge over coats and batten down the hatches of our inner self, losing all our fun, creativity, and often all our innovation. We all have the ability to come up with creative ideas which can help us each and every day in the workplace, if only we scratched beneath the surface to discover what is actually underneath.
Being creative can involve cooking a meal from scratch, creating a novel, doing some DIY, making up a bedtime story for your child, finding ways to cut costs, or even developing a creative solution to a negotiation impasse. Whatever you do, creativity helps you do it better.
Many business people will admit to saying, “I have no creativity at all!” You may well believe that your job has no requirement for creativity, or perhaps you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you are just not the outgoing fun type. But having a creative mindset and being intrinsically you is not the sole domain of being arty – whether it’s painting, theatre, music, architecture, dancing, literature, and so on-but is important in any field, from medicine to business, and from engineering to economics.
Embracing ALL OF YOUR creativity is essential for fulfilling your potential, at work and in life. So why with all the liberalisation around our everyday lives do we still prefer to hide layers to the nakedness of ourselves behind our laptops and working uniforms? You are the same person that goes to work and when you arrive it is as if your ‘Heart and Sole’ dies….you become subdued, risk- aversed and oh so serious…
So, keep looking around in your organization.
- Do you see fun and creativity at work?
- Do you see joy?
- Do you see love?
- Or do you see fear, and in authenticity, and mediocrity?
If the latter, you may be witnessing the wall of the mind at work. At a basic and human level, this may be the single most dangerous stumbling block between your organization and long-term success!
We often get people say to us how much they love our company name The Customer’s Shoes. And we’re grateful that we made a choice that has such wide appeal even if we do get the occasional passer by stop us in our branded car asking us if we sell shoes!
At the heart of our name is the principle of ’empathy’ an important element of the customer experience. Our philosophy to customer experience requires clients to stand in the customer’s shoes and to hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. And in this way you’ll find inevitably that you find new, more relevant ways to treat your customers Because by doing so you begin to demonstrate your empathy with the customer or in the case of healthcare the patient.
Empathy is perhaps the most important skill to develop in the customer experience arena, a skill that is often overlooked.
Please watch this video clip presented to Cleveland Clinic staff by CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD during his 2012 State of the Clinic address on Feb. 27, 2013. Simply titled “Empathy.”
Definition of Empathy
Empathy has many different definitions and the subject itself is widely studied. Definitions encompass a broad range, from caring for other people and having a personal desire to help them. For example when a customer service representative that really cares for their customer’s predicament wants to find a solution for them.
It can also include experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions such as feeling annoyed and upset when a co-worker tells you of how they have been treated by their boss.
Another example of empathy is having a clear knowledge of what the other person is thinking or feeling. At it’s extremes it can become the blurring between one’s self and an other.
But the ability to imagine oneself as another person is actually a very sophisticated imaginative process that doesn’t come easily. So telling somebody on a training course that they simply need to show empathy to their customers undervalues the skill involved and the requirements involved to develop empathy as a core skill. It is believed however that the basic capacity to recognise emotions is probably an innate one and a skill that some of us possess in greater quantities than others. It may even be achieved unconsciously.
The good news is that empathy can be trained and achieved with various degrees of intensity or accuracy. Contact The Customer’s Shoes if you need training on developing empathy in your teams or yourself.
For other videos on topics we’ve found relevant to the customer experience view our YouTube channel.
My youngest son recently spent a day in hospital to have a small lump removed from his neck which had slowly increased in size over the years to become the size of a pea. He had named his lump, Lenny. We were assured by the consultant he was referred to that the lump was more than likely to be perfectly harmless. But what was really troubling our son was the regular teasing from his peers at school as the lump was visible above his shirt collar. So it was time for Lenny to be removed.
The operation took no more than 45 minutes to complete from start to finish although he needed to be in hospital from early in the morning until late afternoon. He spent his time on the children’s ward which was occupied by several other children with various conditions. In turn each saw their respective nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons. I was impressed with the care and attention each child was given each time the respective clinicians and surgeons visited the bedside of their patients. Words were carefully chosen to explain the process the child would go through but in a language that was child and parent friendly. Words that demonstrated empathy too.
That was until my son’s surgeon arrived on the scene. Expecting the same carefully chosen words I was surprised by the blunt and to the point approach the surgeon chose. She duly explained the procedure my son would go through, where the incisions would be made and the likely outcome of any scaring. She then dropped in a final phrase which went something like this “and the worse case scenario is..”.
With those few words you could see the colour drain from my son’s face as the surgeon explained in further detail how she would cope with a more complicated procedure. A lack of empathy if ever there was one.
Empathy is a powerful communication skill that is often misunderstood and underused in practice. In customer service training it should be an essential skill to be developed. Initially, in the context of a doctor/patient relationship empathy was referred to as “bedside manner”, however now, authors and educators consider empathetic communication a teachable, learnable skill that has tangible benefits for both clinician and patient (customer).
My son has made a full recovery and now has only the slightest hint of a scar. As for Lenny..he was last seen under a microscope.
So how confident are your front line staff in being able to demonstrate appropriate levels of empathy?
Imagine a computer that detects emotions in the user, or detects changes in voice patterns between two people laking – the customer and the service provider…Now imagine that computer changing its own behaviour and guiding the user or service provider on what to do next. This is the field of emotional intelligence in computing.
Enterprises are starting to see sound financial benefits to take action on emotion. “Research shows that if you respond to a customer within 24 hours of an angry experience, you are likely to recover the customer and to create [vendor] loyalty,” says Bar Veinstein, NICE Systems’ director of product marketing. An insight article on the subject at CIO Magazine presents some of the current developments.
One things for sure there’s certainly the need for development in this field with human to human interactions and the development of emotional intelligence to improve all sorts of customer interactions. And if software gives us the head start then that’s good news. Read the article to find out how software analyzes human behavior and helps humans to make better business decisions.