The One Skill that Makes a Great Customer Experience

Great customer experience is, or should be the holy grail of all businesses. It is the all encompassing subject of the customer’s initial relationship with the company via outreach and marketing, their experience with purchase and use of the service, their satisfaction with the product or service during this, and ultimately, when a problem does arise, the quality, speed and effectiveness of customer service to resolve it. Customer experience is everything of the customer in their interaction and exposure to your company and your services and products.

As a result, not having great customer experience is quite the catastrophe indeed. There are many skills that obviously go into supporting the customer experience, since the whole of the company’s output goes into facilitating the experience itself. This means that every skill plied in a company, even if not directly linked to the end user or customer, does have bearing on the experience in some way. But, what skill above all others leads to a great customer experience?

As a leader, especially in marketing, product design or customer service, the customer experience is more direct and more of a forethought for you. You need skills that apply directly to it, not indirectly as all other parts of the whole naturally do in their way. When you look at yourself, and surmise your capacity for facilitating a positive customer experience, which virtue and/or skill should you weigh above all others? In turn, this is also the skill or virtue you should weigh in all potential employees who also deal directly with shaping a customer experience.

You may or may not be surprised to discover that it is in fact empathy which is the greatest skill and virtue in shaping a customer experience positively. This may sound odd, but it’s true. In order to properly ensure that a customer’s experience is wholly to their satisfaction, you must be able to get inside their heads. But it goes deeper than that.

Psychology allows you to effectively forecast how others may think with reasonable data at your disposal, but just facilitates calculative measures. This isn’t bad, but it’s only part of it. Sympathy lets you be able to care about how the customer is feeling or thinking in regards to the experience as you have shaped it. This is a step in the right direction, as it gives you some emotional involvement in caring that they are happy, not just about your profits like the strict calculative outset would condone by itself.

But, we’re still not quite there yet. Empathy is the step up from sympathy, where you not only feel for your customers, but can effectively feel what they feel, and therefore make their experience your own vicariously. This gives you the ability to really understand how their experience is affecting them, and it becomes personal to you that their experience is positive. It also lets you think about every step in all the processes, and imagine for yourself “the end result of this … how will the customer feel when they experience it?”

Logistics and strategy and leadership are great. Empathy is the most important skill for ensuring great customer experience.


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is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe