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 Why Do We Need an Empathy Movement?

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Why Do We Need an Empathy Movement?

Kelly Salance

Technology underpins nearly every single thing we do. So much so, technology has been termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s no wonder given experts predict that by the year 2030, between 20 and 25% of all jobs that humans hold today will be replaced by technology and control more and more of your daily interactions.  

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Tech may soon be filing your taxes for you, driving your car, teaching you how to play piano, and it may respond to you automatically when you have a customer service issue with a product you just purchased. (We should know...we're working on it!)

While all of this will be done in the name of becoming more efficient and eliminating redundancies, it will do so at a cost: less human-to-human interactions. And yes, we know the cynics out there are shooting off confetti cannons of joy, the truth is human interactions are key to living a healthy life!

According to a fascinating TED talk by Susan Pinker, the Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. Why? Because it's not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the islanders healthy -- it's their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions.

Yet as more efficient algorithms and technology reduce the amount of real, human interactions we have in a given day, week, and month, how can we make sure we don’t lose touch with the stuff that differentiates us from the machines?

Welp, this is might sound crazy, but customer service may just be the answer. (Ok, ok… at the very least one of the answers.) Think about it. It’s a good bet that you might have more customer interactions on a given day than any other. Imagine what it would be like if the vast majority of those support interactions are high-touch, high-empathy and from real people who can detect emotion, relate to our human needs, and even make us laugh occasionally. We might all need to rethink our current retirement strategies. But might actually be happy to do it.

We promise we really aren’t trying to break the world record for eye rolls, so imagine your first Uber ride in a driverless car. (It's already in trials in two American cities, so if we all plan on being like Sardinia, this is in our future.). What would it take for you personally to get in the car?  Would a screen offering a live video chat with a helpful, knowledgeable, and kind customer service representative do the trick? Someone in real-time who can answer any concerns you have with the car, or how the process works, or what happens if it gets stuck. Or would you rather a live customer support person from Uber on video for the entire first ride, so you can feel more safe, more protected, and more trusting of this new technology.

It’s scenarios like these that Zendesk believes is the future of customer experience. It's not only improving technology to automate and make customer service interactions more efficient. But also investing in the creation of more human interactions so we don’t lose sight of the importance of these interactions as we all more and more of our lives to be automated

We call this the Empathy Movement. As tech becomes the tool to define some of our most vulnerable interactions, it’s critical that we all learn how to layer and integrate empathy into our interactions much more deliberately. At Zendesk, we’ve done this by launching the #6hours campaign, which asks every single one of Zendesk’s 2,000+ workforce to invest 6 hours of their time into community service. The idea being that volunteering is a vehicle for building up one’s empathy muscle.

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Join us in the #6hours campaign by simply tweeting at us (@ZDNeighborFDN) a photo of you volunteering with #6hours.

You can also catch Tiffany Apczynski, Zendesk’s Vice President of Public Policy and Social Impact take a deeper dive into the Empathy Movement at Relate 2018 this November.