What empathy looks like.
Mr Kwan turned up within 3 minutes of me confirming my Grab ride.
"Good morning, sir" the 60-something Singaporean gent sang as he helped me load my signature yellow suitcase.
"Good morning, boss." I call everyone "boss" at first if I don’t know their name.
As we got into the car, he immediately switched from a Mandarin talk station ( obviously his favourite) to an English music station.
After a couple of minutes he asked: "Air temperature ok for you, sir?"
Yes, everything is fine thanks.
As we passed through the East Coast a really good song came on the radio and I started tapping the beat on my leg. With a quick glance in the mirror he sensed my joy and turned up the volume for me. And the hits kept coming so the volume stayed up.
Until just before Changi Airport. My phone rang. Without missing a beat he lowered the music, fading out like a seasoned Radio DJ.
At the airport he insisted on helping me with my bag again, even though he was a good 15 years older and 20 kg lighter than me.
I paid my fare, adding a few bucks tip: "Mr Kwan, when you stop for a break, please buy yourself a coffee”.
This is what empathy looks like in action. Yes it sounds like just a good service story, but that’s the thing: whether he knew it or not, Mr Kwan was curating a frictionless experience for me, based on empathy. He knows the ride is about me, not about him, although it’s his office, and he's driving in it all day.
This resulted in better service, which resulted in a happy customer, which resulted in a good review, a good tip, and a more productive flight home for me because I felt all was well in the modern trust economy.
Empathy doesn't announce itself. It just listens, observes and adjusts the sails according to that feedback loop.
Whether between individuals, a brand or a business.
How can you curate a better experience for your customers today?