Especially in the staffing industry, empathy is important when conducting business. However, the digitization of our modes of communication has replaced high-touch with high-tech and this has burdened individuals’ empathetic qualities.
This mediated communication heightens the risk of misinterpreting how words are used as well as the emotional state of their authors.
The successful account manager is the individual capable of intuiting the human behind the words— the true intention as well as the ambient desires and emotions—even though these words are communicated digitally, without small talk, fanfare, or embellishing physical signals.
The paradox faced by leadership is how to determine who among these aspiring account managers is most likely to succeed in sales or account management. While the buyer states his desire in recognizable words, the account manager’s secret to success is the ability to visualize the unstated, the untouchable, and the unseen.
What is the fabulous technology that allows an account manager to perform this mapping? Empathy.
Empathy compensates for digital platforms’ masking of human emotions. Empathy delivers the customer service required and the satisfaction guaranteed promise.
Determining Levels of Empathy
The very same high-tech culprit that replaced the high-touch relationship is the perfect test bed for empathy. Whether through email, text messages, social networking platforms, instant messaging, or any other digital form of delivery, digital communication can test an individual’s level of empathy.
Let’s use the beloved, reviled, absolutely critical email inbox to illustrate. Open your inbox and sort your emails by subject.
I’ve noticed the following pattern: The short email chains always belong to the most successful account managers. Long strings of email exchanges with an associate about individual subjects speak to the associate’s inability to read what we need and see a resolution or conclusion without having to exchange an endless list of emails.
I’ve also realized that those individuals with whom I’ve had many exchanges about a specific subject usually require several exchanges on almost any subject; certitude is not their forte. Meanwhile, top performers are conclusive and produce without fuss or difficulty.
An empathetic employee will proactively expedite a satisfactory fulfillment before the client has to exchange many emails about the same subject. Empathy, however, is only the first step.
Recognizing Clients’ Needs
Recognizing the needs of others and placing oneself in their shoes will not suffice unless we act on these perceptions. It is our ability to satisfy both the spoken and tacit needs of those with whom we have never experienced a high-touch relationship that separates masters and amateurs in today’s digital world.
Charm clients with your responsiveness and service, even if you can’t physically see or hear them. When you take a moment and let yourself care about the authors behind the digital words, you will be surprised how their untouched hands open doors for you.
(Originally published in the July-August 2016 issue of the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Success Magazine.)