Skip to main content

Article 3 min read

Building empathy with your customers

Learn how companies are weaving empathy into the customer experience.

By Ciera Nahale, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Solutions

Last updated August 9, 2022

As people began working in a hybrid environment during the global pandemic, organisations everywhere needed to quickly deploy new solutions for supporting the higher ticket volumes coming in from a flood of customer inquiries. Demand spiked for customer service across the spectrum of financial services, retail/manufacturing, healthcare, media/entertainment, and tech sectors. This led to powerful changes as organisations needed to rapidly scale personalised responses at the enterprise level.

Demonstrating empathy for new and existing customers has become essential to customer service as the need for thoughtful and efficient responses has increased. And messaging channels have morphed into important means of personalisation, as brands have become more mindful of preferred communication styles in new, digital-first environments. Digital support software has shown that transformation can happen in just hours and days, not months and years, with its flexibility and adaptability being key to empathetic responses at scale. After the sudden shift to digital CX, companies are focused on refining their customer service strategy for the new world.


Healthcare companies have always understood how important it is to be sensitive to patients' emotions and experiences. Consumers are taking charge of their health more than ever before. They're researching health issues, communicating with medical staff in new ways, and changing how they choose their healthcare providers and related services. Healthcare providers, insurance companies, and vendors of medical devices, drugs, and other healthcare supplies need to enable clear communication and empathy at scale to effectively support patients through their preferred communication channels.

Leading healthcare providers are using these tools to scale their support operations while building stronger relationships and trust with their patients. They're deploying tools like self-service help centres and AI-powered chatbots that can help guide patients through self-diagnosis and connect with agents for appointments. By providing self-service tools and cooperating with partners across the patient's journey, healthcare organisations can also minimise patient frustration and streamline processes to help reduce costs.

In today's healthcare environment, it's equally important to empathise with employees. Attracting and retaining employees in healthcare is extremely challenging. Providing employees with simple ways to get the support they need from various internal departments (including IT and HR) creates a better employee experience and allows staff to focus on their primary jobs.

Financial services

Many people faced uneasiness about their financial situations as the economy slowed, and clients turned to their financial institutions for support with everything from guidance on how to adjust to fluctuating markets to cancelling travel booked with credit card points. Expressing empathy and understanding in these interactions can make a big difference for customers when they face new challenges.

Easy access to customer information, such as which clients are shifting to online banking for the first time, can help agents adjust their communication style to better serve their customers. Meanwhile, financial firms are leveraging the power of AI and chatbots. By using the context of client data, bots serve relevant resources to clients when they reach out for support.


Consumers are prioritising purchases, and retailers should know that compassion and empathy drive many purchase decisions. By leveraging their understanding of customer preferences and frustrations, retailers can shape both 1:1 interactions and mass communications.

Customer context can positively affect product targeting and guide content creation while allowing AI chatbots to respond with the most relevant offers or information. As sentiment analysis becomes more integral to the retail experience, IDC expects two-thirds of leading consumer brands will employ emotion detection and management technologies to influence customer engagement and purchasing within five years.

Related stories

6 min read

Pride month ends, the action continues

Zendesk celebrated Pride 2022 under the theme of Love Sparks Action. Here's how we will continue to support LGBTQIA+ rights and champion diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.

7 min read

The 3 keys to successful automated brand interaction

The only way to deliver exceptional conversational CX at scale is through automation. With so much on the line, it’s time we went back to the basics and unpacked what it takes to lay the right foundation for automated brand interaction.

7 min read

Bringing empathy to product design

There’s never been a better time to understand our customers. We have access to gazillions of…