Empathy in Action

A Response to Empathy in Action, Chapter 12 - The Empathy Transformation

29 Mar 2022

Empathy Is Key To a Great Customer / Employee Experience

The term empathy is key to engaging any kind of Customer Experience (CX), Member Experience (MX), Patient Experience (PX), and Employee Experience (EX) in any industry going forward in today's climate. It is about putting yourself in the customer’s “shoes” and their state, thoughts, and feelings. It’s about running your organization as though you are the customer. It is about looking for ways to retain customer loyalty and therefore longevity through empathy. The answer is not that easy. However, a new book from Tony Bates, @Genesys CEO and Chairman, and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, Empathy In Action, provides a guidepost on how empathy impacts both the customer and employee experience.

The book discusses the outcomes and results of customer / employee experience transformation that are directly proportional to an organization's commitment to change. As we get to the last chapter of the book, there are three key takeaways, which include:

  • Five levels of commitment when it comes to reshaping the customer / employee experience. Very few companies are in the top tier of adoption
  • Creating a set of questions to begin transforming your organization into an empathy empowered, customer and employee-centric organization
  • Using a process like the OODA loop (observe-orient-decide-act), to ensure the company is constantly iterating and pivoting to strive towards empathetic centricity

Organization Commitment Levels

The book cites levels of commitment an organization has put forth for customer experience from levels 1 through 5. Here are the characteristics of the bottom and top levels:

  • Level 1 - The culture is mired in politics and inertia; customer / employee experience is not something that is top of mind; using all linear technologies; processes strategy the same; don't feel that transformation is necessary; don't think information in Empathy In Action can be applied to their organization; the organization doesn’t feel stuck and is satisfied with everything as is
  • Level 5 - The culture is future forward, disruption oriented; customer / employee experience is in their DNA; optimizing all four capabilities of strategy people, process and exponential technology; an “all-in” attitude and has already started the transformation process; working in a “pod” structure with full alignment

Levels 1 and 5 clearly show the difference between the two: Level 1 - organization is fine with the status quo versus Level 5 - wanting to transform itself towards empathy and a total customer engagement experience and culture.

OODA and Quality

The last chapter of Empathy in Action also discusses the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) Loop, created by John Boyd, a fighter pilot and management strategist. The OODA Loop delivers a framework for driving discussions around customer / employee-centric models and how to address the changes needed. This framework consists of:

  • Observe - listening, monitoring, and collecting data on what employees and customers know, think, and feel about how the organization provides experiences
  • Orient - benchmarking and comparing ideal experiences to current customer experiences within the organization and against competitors
  • Decide - gaps in providing those ideal experiences based upon business KPIs and outcomes towards improvement
  • Act - making changes to people, strategy, processes, leadership and technology to deliver better experiences and continually learn and improve on them.

OODA provides the ability to understand where the organization is currently at, and course corrects towards better customer and employee experiences.

Fast Forward Empathy Transformation Questions

The authors also share insights around Fast Forward Empathy Transformation questions. These questions center around brand promise, leadership, strategy, process, technology, people and culture. The authors also provide conversation starter questions around human capital and talent processes. Some sample questions include:

  • Have we assessed the readiness and capability of employees to change the way that they do their work?
  • Are we strategically aligning our people, culture, processes and technologies to deliver the best possible employee experiences resulting in the best possible customer experiences?
  • Have we laid out all the steps for various customer journeys in our business process mapping?
  • Do we understand the specific business objectives behind each part of the technology matrix?
  • What are the leadership practices to lead individual and business transformation?
  • What are the performance measurement approaches to measuring and encouraging the transformation?

The authors also discuss various types of business work styles and recommend leveraging the DISC system (D for how you respond to challenges, I for how you influence others, S for preferred pace, and C for how you respond to rules and procedures). The DISC system helps analyze personality traits embodied in each individual.

My Reflections

In my opinion, I think the authors are “right on” moving towards empathy transformation. Organizations must first recognize that they need to change. As an independent Contact Center and Unified Communications consultancy working for mid-to-large enterprises, we see all the time whether those companies want to truly make changes towards better customer / employee experiences versus staying status quo. Most CxO individuals that we meet with or interview are in agreement that customer experience is first and foremost on their minds and they must use tools, whether it be technology, process or procedures to improve CX.

If organizations are not ready to make changes and improve their current customer service and customer experience levels, they will eventually die simply because competition has bypassed them. The winners will be the ones that grasp the whole concept of customer experience / employee experience and especially empathy, being in the customers “shoes.”

I think the OODA loop process makes it very clear how you can analyze, synthesize, and act on customer and employee data, feedback, sentiment, and actions. The OODA loop is a critical component to move your organization forward.

The Fast Forward Empathy Transformation Questions are golden, from my vantage point, and provide enough detail for any organization to begin to make immediate improvements just by following the questions laid out in the last chapter.

Lastly, minimizing employee attrition has tremendous value to any organization. You can minimize the number of new employees you need to interview and acquire every year. Those organizations that want to minimize employee attrition should look at areas such as maturity of the employee, employee empowerment, and the ability to work from home. A study performed by Unicom (unicomcorp.com) shows that:

  • Customers might spend up to 16% more with your organization if they receive better service
  • Over 60% of consumers stop doing business with an organization after a bad experience
  • 77% of consumers would recommend an organization after they have a positive customer experience with them
  • A full 33% of customers agree that resolving an issue the first time is vital to their relationship as a customer


I think the authors of Empathy in Action are right on with looking beyond the traditional contact center and metrics. Delivering empathetic customer and employee experiences are key differentiators that will separate the winners from those that will be left behind.

In fact, in today’s market, a good to great customer experience is now a requirement for doing business with any customer.

The lifeblood and very existence of your organization is at stake if you don't begin to embrace the concept of customer / employee experience. Staying part of the status quo is no longer good enough to stay alive in the long term. Consumers are now making their decisions on the brands they buy and engage with based on the experiences they have with them.



There are currently no comments on this article.

You must be a registered user to make comments

Add new comment

Your name:

Related Vendors