From day one of founding Caura & Co, I knew how important empathy is going to be in communicating with our customers. In my former career, when I was just starting out in Silicon Valley as a freelancer, success seemed to come from my technical skills. Then I joined a tech company — that later turned out to be very successful — and 50 technology clients later, the big takeaway was: customers deserve my empathy.
At the time, our product, like that of most early tech companies, was going through an early adoption lifecycle. With that came about a thousand of implementation issues, bugs, and misaligned architecture decisions. While product and engineering eventually provided long-term resolutions, often the success of customer relationship came from an immediate hack, a workaround, a troubleshooting session — basically, an immediate way of communicating to the client that
look, I might not realize the pressure you are dealing with, but let me understand the underlying issue and see if I can find an interim solution.
This always got me respect.
Upon founding Caura , I wanted to ensure that this same level of empathy I was previously delivering, would be delivered to all of our company’s clients. My partner, in a stroke of a genius, then invented a natural language understanding (NLU) tool to do just that. The results were immediate: I was able to catch and classify unintended emotional reaction we projected to clients (and in some cases, learn new information about our customers’ feelings towards our work) . The tool was like a godsend for any consulting business.
But there was a problem. How do we communicate this level of empathy to people who don’t know us yet? How to project our empathy and the sincere desire to understand client’s problem when a prospect is an executive with no spare time for back-and-forth emails and long paragraphs?
What we needed was an immersive chat experience!
As a technical team we started our search with tangible and quantifiable variables:
This framework quickly allowed us to rule out Olark and Zopim via (2); Telegram via (1); LetsChat via (3). We used a combination of github commits and Hacker News to asses (1) and (2). (3) required a bit of research into press coverage and crunchbase stats.
Ultimately, we were left with a few major apps, and a few less known alternatives. Some were open source — others were not. Initially Slack and WhatsApp — were heavy contenders. Slack because of its platform pitch. WhatsApp because of the fresh and new focus on business. And we were not able to make a decision.
This made us reevaluate whether having only quantifiable criteria for this selection process is the right decision. Fundamentally empathy is something that is one of the less quantifiable features of our social existence. Sure, we try to quantify it with our own EQ Check product when it comes to written communication, but does that mean we can universally apply the same definition to a visual experience? The short answer is “no, we can’t”.
So the decision boiled down to which product communicates empathy and understanding. It turns out on this issue, Wire App sharply stood out. Similar to its predecessor, Skype (another one of Janus Friis’ companies), the app had a welcoming feel. It projected friendly vibes of a product that is not focused on driving engagement (as many products are in this day and age), but one that is genuinely focused on connecting people.
So far we feel good about the decision to choose Wire . Since our adoption, the company officially stated its support for business use cases. And we expect that a lot of our needs (code sharing and doc collaboration) will eventually materialize. Yes, we are required to publish the code for our customized version of this chat application , but that is O.K. as this is the part of the business that we are glad to outsource to the broader community. Same goes for our bot application .
Nothing can replace the real human interaction. The idea of using Wire chat application along with our EQ Check is because more frequently our digital interactions are missing the part about emotional intelligence. We write eloquent emails only to focus on the information exchange while naively ignoring and, sometimes, hiding underlying human motivations. Having a software deliver the consistent experience filed with empathy is our way to adjusting to the scale of information flowing through the internet pipes. Rome was not built in a day. Small improvements can one day help us wield full control over how well we communicate with one another leading to unimaginable levels of creativity and collaboration.
This was a post on the “Why”. Please leave feedback if you would like to see the post on the “How” of implementing a Wire Chat App.