A key outcome of our work at Heart of the Customer (HoC) – and the essence of CX as a discipline – is to create empathy. That’s how we help our clients better understand their customers.
When empathy is high, organizations are more likely to serve their customers better. They invest in the right initiatives and are rewarded with loyalty, which increases profits, which inspires further efforts to improve the journey. That mutually beneficial cycle is the foundational belief behind what we do. And it’s rewarding work.
Last week, we saw a face completely devoid of empathy. I don’t know what Derek Chauvin was thinking during those horrifying 8 minutes and 46 seconds, but I am certain it wasn’t about the pain (and hopes and goals and feelings) of George Floyd, the defenseless human being he had callously pinned underneath him.
This was only the latest tragedy in a long-standing pattern of police violence in Minneapolis that’s disproportionately aimed at the Black community, and another manifestation of the disturbing inequity that persists here in the city I love.
We routinely rank near the top on lists of the best cities to live…and yet also near the top for the worst cities for Black Americans. As a white man, I can’t begin to understand what that feels like, but I know it’s indicative of something very wrong.
It saddens me that it needs to be said, but it does need to be said, and emphatically: Black lives matter.
(If you are willing and able to help out some of the people most impacted by these events, Reclaim the Block has distributed a list of local organizations that are still in need of donations, and you can find local Black-owned businesses to support here. Also, the Northside Funders Group is helping my local neighborhood.)
We’re seeing something else happening, too: a wave of empathy, support, solidarity, and action rising across the country from people whose privilege has allowed them to ignore just how deep the roots of racism run in this country, even in cities like ours, that consider themselves progressive.
One local school in an area that lost its grocery store to a fire during this unrest reached out to the community last Saturday asking for 80 bags of food to provide to students at risk of going hungry. On Sunday, they received 25,000 bags – six truckloads of food, diapers, household cleaning supplies, and more. That’s just one example of what’s been happening here, but inspiring evidence of what we’re capable of when we have each other’s backs.
There is a lot of work to be done. But we’re ready. We have been fortunate to work with the March of Dimes and Hennepin Healthcare to assist African American mothers through group prenatal care. Despite our successes, and my commitment to mindful giving (for example, 10% of my speaking fees go to the Montessori American Indian Childcare Center), as both a values-driven company and civic-minded residents, we now realize we haven’t been doing enough to help close the gap in racial outcomes. I believe it’s important to own up to that.
We’re going to be taking additional action, including funding an internship for a student of color interested in business or data analysis, and partnering with a local nonprofit as part of a lasting commitment to put our team’s knowledge, skills, and expertise to use in a significant, ongoing effort to create empathy across communities, improve the journey for Black Minneapolitans, and amplify Black voices.
We don’t know exactly what this venture will look like just yet, but knowing how supportive the CX community is, we’ll let you know if there’s a way for you to be a part of it. I know I want to do more. I suspect you do, too.
What we know for sure is that empathy is the key component of success in any collective endeavor, whether it’s social justice or sustainable profitability. We’re not going to turn this around overnight, but we’re in for as long as it takes. Our best-in-class customer journey mapping initiatives help build the desire to drive customer-focused change. We’re passionate about building empathy between our clients and their customers, and we’re certain we can do the same in service of the Black community.
We will create the desire to drive people-focused change.
We all have a responsibility to reject the status quo here, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to ask the tough questions. This is a time to show up and speak out, but also to listen and to learn.
Let’s all begin those difficult conversations, but also be sure to check in with those around you and ask how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. Even the most stoic among us has to admit that 2020 has been…a lot.
The empathy we can offer each other right now is key to tackling what’s to come together, whatever it may be. Here’s to better days ahead!
PS: This enlightening video doesn’t focus on Minneapolis specifically, but everything it covers applies here – and that’s kind of the point: institutionalized racism is pervasive nationwide. I urge you to take 17 minutes out of your day to watch it. As I’ve said, information delivered visually is more compelling and makes a bigger impact, and you are likely to come away knowing something you did not about how we got to where we are today, and what steps we need to take to change course.