In 2019, Bloom & Wild, a mailbox flower delivery company, announced to its customers that they could opt out of marketing on Mother’s Day. This followed some customers asking that emails be paused in advance, which for some can be a sensitive holiday.
The response was mostly positive. Since then the Thoughtful marketing move has evolved and 130 companies have signed up. Marketers share their ideas on how to be more empathetic.
Empathy is becoming increasingly important for individuals, communities and organizations. Two years ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Empathy is one of the most important sources of innovation.
At TNW2020, Jacob Andreou, Vice President of Product at Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, hosted a panel entitled “Leading With Empathy.” During the interview, Andreou said empathy is key to building an organization and communicating with customers: “Empathy is the key to the future of marketing and business as a whole. I believe in leading with empathy and building companies with an empathy imperative. “
Empathy and innovation are linked
Empathy, which is closely tied to innovation, comes as no surprise. It’s the act of putting yourself in someone else’s metaphorical shoes and understanding what they’re feeling and why. When looking at something from a different perspective, an innovator needs to understand how the thing can be made better or what new product should be created.
However, in the world of technology, things can go wrong. A lack of empathy with innovation can lead to the consequences for some end users of a new product being overlooked. The conclusion of a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that many facial recognition algorithms were used by 99 developers misidentified faces 10 to 100 times more likely to be of African and Asian ancestry than faces of European ancestry.
If these shortcomings are revealed, it is important that they are corrected as soon as possible. Snapchat did that. Andreou and his team realized that the new “Best Friends” feature was publicly showing the friendship level that users were designating with each other and removed the feature.
While it added time on the platform, it also increased stress and anxiety, which is neither good for the company nor for the user.
Empathize and adapt
Sensitive innovations are also about optimizing existing functions in order to integrate products with a broader range of experience.
One example is Clue, an ovulation and period tracking app that tracks other activities like sleep, stress, and sexual activity. In the past, the symbols for protected sex and unprotected sex were a lying male silhouette wearing a tie and the same figure, but without a tie. Then the symbols changed to a pair of boots and a pair of flip flops.
Clue CEO and Founder Ida Tin told TNW: “We understand that the former may have excluded the experience of some of our users. We always try to be hyperculturally aware. “Clue’s awareness that people who have periods and use the app may have sex lives unrelated to men led to an innovative improvement that made the product more inclusive.
Pinterest is another company that is customized to meet the needs of its users. ‘Pinners’ who document quotes and pictures in areas from DIY to interior design and get inspired. Annie Ta, head of Inclusive Product, said the team spoke to experts about how to gain experiences that can inspire people no matter how they are feeling.
Ta told TNW, “This has resulted in our team building a more compassionate search experience,” a collection of emotional wellbeing activities that allow users to improve their mood. Prompts about these activities appear when users search for topics that imply a bad mood, such as: B. “Fear of work”. The initiative thus corresponds to the value of the platform of “putting the winners first”.
Follow the “imperative for empathy”
With that in mind, Snap also states that the needs of Snapchatters are of paramount importance. For the social media giant, the possibility of bringing empathy into innovation is to follow the “empathy imperative”.
During his TNW2020 talk, Andreou explained that the empathy imperative is a template for building, with the needs, preferences and safety of real people in the foreground. He said part of the imperative of empathy is building trust: “That trust goes hand in hand with predictability, and a predictable product that behaves as expected in the hands of your users is a well-designed product.”
Andreou said this is why there is no way to re-share content within Snapchat: “If any piece of content upsets you, you can’t get it out to all of your followers, which increases its impact. That is exactly what brand security means. “
The empathy imperative also follows four guiding principles:
- The first is always Honor your core product value. “At Snap, our core product value is about being the fastest way to communicate. We focused on helping people feel the depth of friendship and developed the “Best Friends” feature. But it got users to guess themselves and the feature has detracted from core product value. Ultimately, we removed the feature. “
- The second is to emulate the way the Walt Disney Company does things. “Disney actually teaches companies in classes, and the most important thing they focus on is teaching the four keys. Safety, courtesy, keeping storytelling alive, and efficiency and convenience. But they are not all created equal and safety should never be sacrificed. At Disney, families need to feel safe and secure. The same is true when you’re building technology. “
- The third is closed be the “right kind” of global taking into account the differences between populations. “If you take technology and products that were developed for the US into other markets, you will fail. A sensitive product always feels like it’s a few blocks away, anywhere in the world. “Snap found out about this in 2015 when it entered the Indian market without understanding the realities of the national internet infrastructure and deterred new users by falsely showing them connectivity error messages.
- The last principle is to innovate openly and promote competition. Andreou said, “If you build for the long term, you probably have a strong and decent product and business. You can afford others to be on your tail. Focus on good innovations and expect these great ideas to spread beyond the walls of your company. “
Empathy is here to stay
The greater awareness and cultural impact of empathy has resonated with many, and it looks like it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Increasingly, companies and industry leaders are taking on missions in accordance with Snap’s guiding principles.
Belinda Parmar, Founder and CEO of The Empathy Business, underlined Snap’s third principle when she told TNW that the main driver of empathy is belonging. With so many of us who feel disconnected: “We have to feel and create a sense of belonging to one another.”
Clue, Pinterest and Snapchat show the importance of making your customers feel included, heard, seen and welcomed in order to create a sense of belonging to a space they want to get involved in.
Finally, Andreou added that listening was a one-way street. “The winds change. They move every industry towards more transparency, responsibility and empathy. It is powered by a young, loudly activated generation who wholeheartedly question the old ways of doing business. ”
This article is brought to you by Snap.