Empathy at Scale: Building Lasting Customer and Employee Relationships

Empathy at Scale: Building Lasting Customer and Employee Relationships

Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

Are you facing roadblocks in your business, struggling to connect with your customers and adapt to corporate structures? Have you ever considered that empathy could be a real solution? Join Doing CX Right podcast host Stacy Sherman and Natalie Petouhoff, as they embark on a journey into the world of empathy in business. Explore how top-performing companies are using empathy to overcome these common challenges. Discover practical insights and strategies to break free from corporate constraints and authentically value both customers and employees. You’ll hear research and real-life case studies that provide actionable takeaways to enhance your business success through empathy.

Key Takeaways:

The Human Element And Empathy in Business

Natalie’s career has been a journey of various roles and reinventions, but one thing has remained constant – her focus on the customer and employee experience. She believes the human element is often undervalued in the corporate world, a perspective she developed from observing her parents’ experiences in their respective professions.

The corporate structure, as Natalie and Stacy agree, often acts as a “box” that limits individuals’ potential and experiences. The workforce has changed dramatically, especially post-pandemic, and many companies fail to understand this shift.

The Difference: Empathy vs Sympathy

Natalie emphasizes the importance of empathy in the business world, drawing on the ideas of Edward Deming and the value of listening to customers and employees. She distinguishes empathy from sympathy, explaining that empathy involves truly understanding and valuing others’ perspectives. By practicing empathy, businesses can drive growth, innovation, and cost reduction.

The Concept of “Doing Right”

The concept of “doing right” is central to their philosophy. In essence, understanding the perspective of others and taking action based on that understanding is crucial for delivering a positive customer experience. The holistic experience of buying a product, from awareness to purchase to customer service, can greatly impact the overall customer experience.

Natalie shares her experience working with Doordash, a company that has transformed its customer service to focus on meeting customer needs and providing genuine and authentic interactions.

Empathy and Technology

In the changing landscape of artificial intelligence and technology, empathy plays a crucial role. They emphasize the importance of designing technology that enhances the employee and customer experience rather than solely focusing on ROI calculations. Natalie shares an example of a diaper bag company that listened to customer feedback and created a new product line, resulting in increased customer loyalty.

The Impact of Empathy

Stacy and Natalie explain that listening to customers and employees is essential for thriving businesses. Natalie shares the example of the diaper bag company again, highlighting how their empathy-driven approach led to success. They also explain the importance of empathy in the offboarding process, as it can impact a company’s brand and reputation.

In Sum:

Leaders must recognize blind spots and actively seek to understand others’ perspectives. Stacy and Natalie encourage leaders to move away from a “tell” leadership style and instead adopt an “ask” approach, taking the time to listen and incorporate feedback into their actions. Empathy applies not only to leaders but also to team members and individual contributors. Everyone has the potential to be a leader, regardless of their job title.



Topics and Timestamps:

The importance of valuing customers and employees [00:00:34] About the significance of valuing customers and employees as assets to a company.

The limitations of the corporate structure [00:03:39] About the constraints of the corporate structure and the difficulty in expanding beyond predefined roles and job titles.

The significance of empathy in understanding and meeting needs [00:05:35] About the concept of empathy in the business world, emphasizing the importance of listening to customers and employees to gain insights and drive growth and innovation.

Understanding the Customer and Employee Experience [00:08:55] About the importance of valuing customers and employees in shaping strategies, culture, and technology choices.

Empathy in Customer Service [00:09:30] About the impact of empathy on the overall customer service experience and customer loyalty.

Transforming the Contact Center Experience [00:11:32] The limitations of the traditional contact center model and the need for empowering agents to represent the brand and meet customer needs.

The importance of empathy in a changing landscape [00:18:02] Discussion on how empathy becomes more important and challenging with the rise of artificial intelligence and technology.

Designing technology with empathy in mind [00:18:31] Exploring the need for designers to consider the end user’s experience when developing technology and AI.

The success of empathy in creating a better outcome [00:21:05] Examples of how implementing empathy in customer and employee experiences can lead to improved outcomes and increased loyalty.

Understanding the Blind Spot [00:27:19] Discussion on the importance of recognizing blind spots and the difference between ask versus tell leadership style.

Leadership Advice for Everyone [00:28:09] The importance of leadership advice for both teams and individual contributors, emphasizing that everyone can be a leader.

Advice for Younger Self [00:28:29] Natalie shares advice for her younger self, including being present, feeling and staying true to emotions, and choosing a different path when things don’t feel right.


In conclusion, Stacy’s conversation with Natalie was a deep dive into the importance of empathy and action in business. It’s clear that understanding and valuing the perspectives of customers and employees is not just a nice-to-have but a must-have for businesses to thrive in today’s world.

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About Natalie Petouhoff:  

As a Business Consultant, Natalie helps brands reduce costs and increase revenue by transforming the customer and employee experience. Many companies think she wants them to spend more for empathy to work as a business concept. She’s not advocating pizza parties or creating Kumbaya factories. Dr. Natalie is asking executives to evaluate how and on what, they are spending now.

Empathy in Action means spending less. This is particularly important in this economic climate. And it’s only with a focus on empathy that they will receive the increases in savings and revenue. This is a paradigm that many are puzzled by until they see it in action. Empathy means action; action informed by feedback from the two most important assets in a company — customers and employees.

Natalie’s career spans many years in technology and customer and employee experience, holding positions in and consulting at companies including Salesforce, Hulu, Marriott, General Motors, General Electric, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Weber Shandwick, Forrester Research, PWC Consulting, Hughes Electronics, Pepsi, Verizon, Best Buy, Procter & Gamble, Chevrolet, and Electrolux.

Check out her Empathy In Action Book on Amazon

About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

Customer experience and marketing global keynote speaker, journalist, co-author of two books, advisor, and host of the award-winning DoingCXRight podcast. Known for her Heart & Science™ framework that helps you gain profitable clients and brand loyalty–fueled by an empowered workforce. Stacy’s been walking the talk for 25 years as a strategist and practitioner at companies of all sizes and industries, i.e., Liveops, Verizon, Schindler Elevator Corp, Wilton Brands, and AT&T. She’s also a board advisor at multiple universities, featured in Forbes and other top-rated publications.

Her Why: To cultivate loyal relationships and meaningful experiences that enrich people’s lives. Contact Stacy for DOING Customer Experience (CX) and Service Right, not just TALKING about it. Continue reading bio >here.

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