A new study from Genesys, a global cloud leader in customer experience orchestration, reveals British workplaces have become intrinsically more empathetic during the pandemic, but brands are lagging behind in how they engage with the public. While consumers increasingly expect brands to show empathy during interactions with them, more than one in 10 (12%) believe brand empathy has actually decreased. When asked to consider empathy in this instance as actively listening, understanding, acting on information and learning from others, there are clear opportunities for brands to do better when engaging consumers.
Findings from the People Like Us study which examined 2,000 UK consumers’ experiences and relationships to others during the COVID-19 pandemic, conclude more than a third (37%) of workers now feel closer to colleagues, with 31% reporting feeling closer to their boss. Furthermore, nearly half of workers (45%) believe the organisation they work for is more empathetic towards staff than it was prior to the pandemic – with 35% of respondents stating that they now receive more emotional support at work. Just 51% also state they have tried harder to be more empathetic towards colleagues – rising to almost two thirds (62%) of those aged 18-34.
Having experienced such high levels of understanding at work since COVID-19 first struck, findings from the study also reveal consumers now expect the same consideration from companies they interact with and purchase from. Over two-thirds of respondents (69%) state, it is important for brands to act with empathy when dealing with them as a customer – rising to over four in five (82%) of those aged 18-34. Regionally, the importance of brands acting in this manner is most crucial to Londoners (78%). The study also sheds light on how consumers now expect brands to engage with them. Over half (57%) want brands to get better at assigning the best available resource (bot or human) to engage with them in real-time depending on the issue they experience, with three quarters (75%) and 84% of those aged 55 plus wanting brands to understand that if they have a serious issue, they want to speak to a human as soon as possible.
“Our world and the way we interact with each other has been forever changed by the events of the past year and a half,” said Helen Briggs, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA at Genesys. “Our survey shows people feel that the companies they work for have actively listened, understood and acted on their feedback, resulting in a significant proportion feeling more seen and heard by bosses than ever before. It is vital for brands to follow suit, using technologies to digitally scale and orchestrate empathetic experiences as we enter a landscape of even greater adaptation and possibility. Companies must take onboard our findings, understanding that key to their survival now will involve actively listening to what consumers have to say and taking the appropriate action.”
Elsewhere, over half of respondents (56%) want brands to have a clearer picture of their wants and needs, with the same percentage stating brands must get better at offering proactive solutions to provide support quickly.
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