Since we’re talking about empathy (well, I am), here’s a great example that happened yesterday. Answering customer requests is good empathy — anticipating them is great empathy.
I was having drinks with friends at the Top of the Mark, atop the famed luxury Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The waiter asked one of our party, “Can I top off your phone?” The phone was on the table, powered on, and we think he must have noticed the battery indicator showed a low battery. He came by with a charger and a cable but with no place to plug in near the table, he offered to take the phone to his station. He came back with a plate and a folded napkin, which he used to take the phone. When we were ready to leave, he returned with the charged phone.
It’s the question smart marketers ask over and over: “What is the customer’s problem?” As in this case, sometimes the customer doesn’t even know. When you can spot and solve a problem before the customer, that’s the big win that takes you from A to A+.