How Creating Empathy at Scale Improves Contact Centre KPIs


A lot of companies are talking about empathy lately. Certainly, the past couple of years have been a challenge for all of us — showing one another more understanding seems appropriate. While some critics say this talk about empathy is merely “touchy, feely” messaging that’s all part of a bigger positioning campaign, I disagree. A focus on empathy makes good business sense. And, as business leaders, a framework for empathy can positively affect our contact centre KPIs. 

To apply empathy to real business challenges, let’s break it down into some actionable components. If I’m showing you empathy, there are some key things I’ll do. First, I’m going to listen — I’ll take in as much information as I can about who you are, where you’ve been and what’s happening to you now. Then I’ll transform that information into understanding  and predict the right way to respond to you. I’m going to act and provide a response. And, if I’m really doing this properly, I’m going to gauge the success and outcome of this interaction and learn from it. These actions make up the empathy framework, or pillars. 

Orchestration on the Path to Empathy at Scale 

Using this foundation, let’s look at how companies can deliver this experience at scale in the contact centre. They’ll use data to listen across the enterprise; artificial intelligence (AI) technologies transform that data into understanding and prediction of how and when to engage. Companies can then act and engage through interaction channels — both inbound and outbound. And finally, they’ll capture the outcome and return to AI to continually learn and improve.  

This empathy framework sounds simple, but there are challenges in bringing this vision together. Existing silos in data, technologies and organisations make this feel like an insurmountable feat that’s beyond our abilities, timelines or budgets. But there’s a path to empathy at scale and it’s centred around orchestration. According to Merriam-Webster, orchestration means: “to arrange or combine so as to achieve a desired or maximum effect.” And that’s what we need — a way to arrange, combine and unify silos into an orchestration of empathy at scale. 

By leveraging identity and event data, we can listen to individuals we interact with and know where they are in their journeys. We use AI technologies to understand their intent, how they feel and what they need. We can then predict and connect the person in the experience with the right resource, whether that’s a piece of content, a self-service application or a human resource. Often the right resource is the lowest-cost option. The key is to use the empathy pillars and orchestrate the experience that guides each person to the right answer the first time.    

Changing the Contact Centre as a Cost Centre Perception 

So how does experience orchestration drive real business outcomes and value? Let’s consider a customer interaction and, with that, the traditional perception and role of the contact centre. Many companies think of the contact centre as a cost centre — a necessary expense of doing business. But as we look at the business benefits of orchestrating empathy at scale, we can transform that perception and role. 

The following image outlines a traditional six-minute contact centre interaction. 


In this traditional model, we identify and validate who the user is. Then we spend time discovering how to assist the user. Finally, we provide the answer. There’s some value here, but it feels like the bare minimum for the cost and expense.

Now let’s look at that same six-minute piece of time and work in the contact centre through the lens of an orchestrated, empathetic experience. We can transform an interaction into an opportunity and, as a result, transform the contact centre from a cost centre to a brand ambassador centre.

This interaction becomes an opportunity to do something more. Because of orchestrated context, the contact centre representative enters into the conversation from a place of understanding and greets the customer by name. The rep can validate the customer’s journey and intent for the interaction. This not only reduces operational costs associated with getting the information, it also adds a level of personalisation that increases customer satisfaction. Then, aided with tools and knowledge orchestration, the representative provides the answer quickly and efficiently.

Because we’ve quickly answered the customer’s question, there’s time for something else — something new. The representative can reinforce the company relationship and brand value with the customer. They can ensure the customer is taking advantage of all products and services they own and recommend additional features and products. This value-focused conversation increases customer retention and expands company wallet share.

This also hits on a component of the contact centre that’s often underutilised: interaction recordings and analytics. The true Voice of the Customer occurs in the thousands of conversations that occur in your contact centre every day. There’s tremendous opportunity to harvest this data — and use it for product and brand planning, analysis, and development.

As we think about ways we can use technology to leverage the framework of empathy to listen, understand and predict, act, and learn, it’s clear there’s an incredible business opportunity. We just need to unify silos in data, technology and organisations to orchestrate empathy at scale — and transform experiences for our customers and our employees.