There can be no doubt the pandemic has altered the emotional make-up of society. Collectively, we are now much more aware of the suffering of others – and how could we not be after seeing lives turned upside down and businesses upended with no sense of rhyme or reason or equity.

It has been a brutal process, but Covid-19 has softened humanity’s edges – and words such as ‘empathy’, ‘kindness’ and ‘vulnerability’ are suddenly being taken much more seriously.

Traditionally, there has been some resistance to showing these traits in the cut-throat world of business. There have been fears it comes at a cost of performance, results and growth. I have long held the opposite view. Empathy is about understanding another person’s point of view or position, and at Capita we remember that we are always dealing with a person’s unique individual experience, no matter how large the project. We have tens of thousands of contact centre staff, for example, who play a critical role in the running of some of the UK’s biggest brands, and our aim is to never forget the personal impact of each interaction. Take someone who is calling one of our contact centres because their partner has passed away and they need to be able to access their pension. This is a call that doesn’t just require empathy, but also great skill and training. To that end, all our call handlers undergo specific bereavement training to ensure the best possible experience for the customer in the circumstances. And we also pride ourselves on knowing we are providing the best service to our clients, who want to maintain strong customer relationships.

We’ve seen a serious uptick in the need for emotional intelligence in society and the workplace, but we’ve of course seen huge digital progression too. The art now lies in leveraging technology advancements to improve human experience, for clients, employees and society as a whole. AI assisted customer conversations, for example, enable us to safeguard customers and call handlers in equal measure by identifying vulnerabilities, stress and anxiety of callers – and providing real time coaching nudges to colleagues. The same tech is also focused inwardly to protect the wellbeing and safety of frontline teams.

And it’s not just in contact centres that we are using tech to enable excellent customer experience. We also focus on providing the relevant partnerships and expertise to deliver the right tech solutions, as well as continually looking to innovate. Our team in Capita Scaling Partner discovers and grows exciting start-up tech companies, allowing us not only to support grass roots innovation but also stay future focused, so we can understand clients’ challenges and importantly co-create solutions. As a business that puts being socially responsible at the heart of what we do, we also ensure the outcomes from our innovative partnerships help society, such as the ‘Level’ app which helps organisations support their workforce’s financial health.
We of course focus on the present but continually think about future trends and needs too. Data and insight underpin everything we do, and we harness it– ethically – to analyse client challenges and predict customer needs. This allows us to be agile in our approach but also socially responsible in a world that is increasingly holding organisations accountable for how they store, interpret and use customer data. Capita not only works to provide transparency around its own data policies and strategies but also seeks to ask important questions about the use of technology and data and how it can best give back to society.

As we come out of the pandemic, let’s use this as a dawn of a new, kinder, more empathic world which harnesses the myriad of opportunities tech presents to help people serve and be served in the best way possible for them.

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