Bridging Technology and Empathy: Why Support Needs To Be A Priority
SmartSimple Product Business Analyst, Sharon Courtney guest writes about the intersection of technology meeting empathy and how support plays a critical role.
Where do technology and empathy meet? How do you build a culture of trust using software solutions with your clients? We’ll be discussing how we use this question as a driving and guiding force in how we approach our support services.
At our core, SmartSimple is a software company that creates technological solutions for human connection. An innate part of our DNA is to build relationships with the clients we collaborate with — to bridge technology in a dynamic, empathetic world. To understand this, we first have to examine what both technology and empathy mean to us.
Empathy can take two forms: cognitive and effective. Cognitive empathy, also known as perspective taking, can include the ability to sense the emotions of others, imagine what they may be thinking or feeling. From a support perspective, affective empathy would mean feeling what the client feels, which is not always what the client needs.
What is empathetic technology?
It means building a tool for the client that addresses their discrete needs. It means building to what they feel. It means we want to make sure that what we build for them actually helps them do their job. This could entail accessibility, compliance, process, background checks, eligibility, task automation, and above all, engagement.
How do you build engagement?
There are multiple ways to build engagement. The first step is understanding what the client deals with on a daily basis. What are their challenges? How technical are they, and how technical are their users? Are they over- or under-resourced? What is the frog they must swallow every day? Where could their process be improved? Why did they choose the processes they did?
Every client has unique needs and history. Their previous process could be pen and paper forms, other systems, or dictated by needs or users that are no longer current. How can we make life easier for them?
Engagement builds trust, which fosters productive communication. Depending on a client’s challenges, they may communicate their needs in ways that are not immediately obvious or technical.
Engagement includes, but is not limited to, active listening, identifying pain points, future-proofed thinking, documentation, follow-up, transparency, consistency, and recall. It also includes check-ins before and after each engagement and having a clear plan. Even if that plan is to work on an issue and check in once a week, that is still an agreed plan to build trust.
This engagement can be paid forward to the client’s users. Highlighting accessibility, areas of confusion, multiple languages, and inclusive language will create a better system. Our goal is to create a system that a client does not merely rent, but owns - that they trust themselves with the system.
Empathy is a responsibility that applies to every role at SmartSimple. From early engagement to architecture, to build, training, and go-live support, empathy is paramount, and it critical in every facet of what we do.