Archives for posts with tag: empathy


What happens when a new service replaces a service we’re all familiar with? A service that you used infrequently or daily, at times of high stress and no time on your side? The brand claims the service is better, speeds up the process and is available in the palm of your hand. Will the brand make the transition easy or will I be stuck with a new service that has all the benefits for the brand and I feel cheated?

Many airlines are introducing the concept of mobile check-in to their services. I love the idea because I tend to crumple my boarding pass in my back pocket, even lost it a few times. It’s a fantastic idea, a win-win situation (less paper for the airline, more efficient and less stress and more convenient for customers). And then you get this:


The problem: I don’t feel confident with this solution.

I assume this is all I need: QR code for the agents, flight and my personal information. Still, when I first encountered electronic boarding passes, I was left with the question: “Is this all I need?”

What do I do when I need to check a bag? What does the security agent do, since they can’t sign my phone? Do I need to keep that screen on the app open or can I close it down and open when needed? What happens when my phone runs out of battery?

It’s not that hard, Delta just needed to add:

  • A sentence explaining that this eCopy is all I need to check in
  • Send a copy of this boarding pass to my email as a back-up
  • Remind me that customer service agents will be happy to assist me

That’s all I need to be 100% confident. And switch from paper boarding passes to ePasses for good.

Brands need to design with empathy for their customers to introduce a new service. It has to be so easy, a 3-year old and a 91-year old feel safe and secure.

P.S.: Now, if somebody could start fixing the wide array of horrendous and idiotic interfaces of public transportation systems, that would be lovely. I’m looking at BART. LA Metro. Amsterdam. Paris. London, Tokyo. The one person/company accomplishing this herculean task will raise the global GDP and efficiency by 5%. Within a second.


The signs are everywhere:

Fly any domestic airline and you feel hated the moment you walk into the plane. (The feeling is mutual, as you can see from this Twitter search.)

Phone trees are a clear sign that a company hates their customers. They don’t even want to hear from them, they just want them to consume and be quiet.

    Banks really hate their customers. Fees, hidden fees, hidden fees behind hidden fees.

      Telco’s? Oy.

        When was the last time you stood in line at the post office? There are some exceptions but most employees despise each and everyone in the line. They feel entitled to yell at people not standing behind some imaginary line and don’t even bother to look up when talking to you.

          One word: DMV.

            How can you expect your customer to love you when you hate them?

            Just watch commercials.

            Dopey men.

            Women getting excited about a new laundry detergent.

            More dopey men.

            Kids who want nothing in the world more than a crappy plastic toy that accompanies their crappy meal.

            Even more dopey men.

            Did I mention dopey men?

            Since Roseanne left the building, the working class has become the laughing stock of the entertainment and advertising industry. They just want to sit in front of the TV, drink beer, eat fattening food and stare at skirts. That’s how we portray our customers.

            While we glorify people like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton: empty heads that never contributed anything to society besides conveying the message that being famous is more important than doing something good and valuable.

            You need to love your customers.

            They deserve it.

            They have been through hell.

            Most of them are still in hell.

            They live in daily fear because one more little disaster might cause their personal, financial apocalypse. They are the 15% of unemployed/underemployed people that don’t see a future. They are the employed that fear they might join the 15% very soon. They have given up on wanting something, they just focus on surviving.

            We are all responsible to create a new culture.

            Whatever you do in advertising, it influences our culture.

            It changes how people feel about themselves.

            This goes way beyond being empathetic.

            It’s is about taking off your Madison Avenue shoes and walk in Main Street shoes.

            It’s about stop pleasing your ad friends and start pleasing real people.

            It’s about making a difference.

            It’s about love.

            A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge – Thomas Carlyle.


            Over the years, quite a few people have asked me what it takes to be successful in the marketing/advertising world. And I always answered “curiosity”. You need to be curious to stay relevant, to understand what people really care about. You need to be curious to understand how humans change behavior. You have to have a basic understanding of anthropology, neuroscience, economics, politics – you name it. While that’s still true, I’ve changed my mind and believe now that being curious is not the most important trait to be successful in marketing/advertising.

            The real answer is empathy

            Data insights are important. And I’m not arguing against it. But our industry tends to forget about human insights. Data insights fit neatly in a spreadsheet, on a PowerPoint slide. Human insights are messier and harder to obtain. To gather human insights you need to do more than just hearing what people say, you have to feel it. You have to feel the complexities and issues that contribute to changing human behavior. You have to feel how the moment of attention that you grab from people can turn into something deeper and more meaningful. This doesn’t happen by segmenting people or hoarding them into data clusters.

            Let me give you an example: There are many people that can tell you all the details about location-based marketing. They know everything there is to know about Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook Places. They can give you tips how to market in this space, how to stand out. They will give you that tiny bit advantage that will be gone by next week. This incremental benefit that evaporates over night because once anything is successful, marketers will copy it. These people are good at the “What”.

            And, there are others, that are good at the “Why”. They will explain to you why people are checking-in. Why people want to connect with others. Why this might be something your brand should consider. They are good at the “Why” because they are empathetic. They can help you make a powerful and interesting difference. And really connect with people.

            We need more of them. As we learned during the financial crisis, humans are not very rational. A pure data insights approach will ultimately fail. You need both. Or you’re just talking to a head and not connecting with the heart.


            Image courtesy of 24 Media

            Since corporations were formed, businesses always relied on analytical decision-making. Large corporations were able to create their own ecosystem, shaping their world at will. In this world, being smart was enough. But these walled garden are gone. And the world outside doesn’t follow the rules the corporations used to force on us. This created a severe alienation between people and companies/institution. And leaves many corporations craving for the old world order and fearing the future.

            There’s nothing to fear. Actually, there’s a lot to look forward to. To an era where emotional skills will be paired with analytical skills. New MBAs already learn to focus more on “self-awareness and the capacity for introspection and empathy.” I would argue, empathy will be the key differentiator for successful institutions. And lack thereof their downfall.

            Empathy will provide you with insightful knowledge of the world outside of your walled garden. Spock never was able to get the full ‘human experience’, just like many managers who are trapped by their own analytical skills. Empathy allows you to experience the world and analyze data outside of your own life experience. It helps you to develop innovative strategic and tactical opportunities. That’s what real Enterprise 2.0 is about: focusing on the strengths of the right brain, understanding patterns, argue holistically and interpret emotions. When we have all the analytical technologies and skills as a foundation and layer right-brain capabilities on top of it to deliver real value. Suddenly things make sense. Empathy helps us to transform enterprises by our new-found ability to see the big picture and take collaboration to a new level.

            Empathy and collaboration are fellow partners. Both are closely linked because they require to focus less on self and more on the outside. People who have the ability to see world through someone else’s eyes are much more likely to share information with others. They understand how their work is linked to that of other people, understand the necessity to overcome of silos. Too many E2.0 experts base their opinion of collaboration on technologies and the obvious benefits for organizations.

            Real collaboration is not reactive. Real collaboration is pro-active. Focusing on the needs of others before they can express them.

            Not “I just got this information request, I should answer.” Instead, “I should share this information because it might benefit XY and her project.”

            Not “A customer complains, I need to resolve this situation.” Instead, “My customer needs are changing and I have to change my products/services to accommodate them.”

            We have to understand collaboration becomes more effective when it’s based on human interaction and relationships. When we have a comfort level with another person, see them as a human, not a resource, collaboration is an organic outcome. Technologies help us to organize and calibrate the collaboration efforts. Empathy helps us build trusting relationships and deliver ROI in the value chain. Empathy is critical for E2.0 organization to harvest the benefits of collaboration and co-creation.