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Tony Bates | CEO | Genesys

Tony Bates: Driving Innovative Technological Shifts with Empathy at Forefront 

In the 1990s, the earliest internet infrastructure was digging its roots deeper to branch out globally. Over the course of decades, it has continued to grow and evolve, bringing transformative shifts in how we work and live. This digital world has ushered in an experience economy that has drastically changed how organizations have to think about how they connect with their employees and customers.   

Tony Bates, CEO at Genesys, experienced these changes up close, steering organizations across business-to-business and business-to-customer companies through significant market transitions. With nearly three decades of professional experience in various management positions, Tony considers himself fortunate to have played a role in shaping several of the most critical technology market transitions—from building the internet to ushering in the new era of online video conferencing and mobile apps. 

He attributes that breadth of experience to what drew him to Genesys—he sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply what he had learned to lead the charge in the next major market transition: embracing empathy to transform experiences.     

This approach, based in understanding the context of a person’s situation and treating each person in light of it, has played a crucial role in how he approaches putting empathy into action, his strategy for changing the way business is done today. It is through this strategy that Bates set out to transform the culture at Genesys and is the basis of his new book,  Empathy in Action: How to Deliver Great Customer Experiences at Scale, co-authored by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff. Together they lay out the framework for how businesses leaders can shift their organizations to transform their employee (EX) and customer experiences (CX) for better business outcomes.   

From Business-Centric to People-Centric 

In the book, Bates outlines that, until recently, customer experience technology has been focused almost entirely on enterprise efficiency and effectiveness. Though it has helped the bottom line, it has also created an enormous blind spot – the human part of the customer-employee interaction. 

With little to no emphasis on EX and CX, business-centric companies often face high turnover, widespread burnout, and struggle to maintain a loyal customer base. By creating an empathetic culture, based on people-centric strategy, organizations embrace their customer and employee experiences as the basis for evaluating how they operate. As a result, they deliver amazing experiences that foster trust and loyalty. Empathy becomes a business advantage.  

Business leaders have long considered the benefit of an authentic one-to-one experience. The problem is technology hasn’t been widely available to make tailored experiences work at scale. Alternatively, companies have settled on consumer segmentation and targeting techniques far too broad to have a meaningful and lasting impact. Now, with tools like AI that contextualize data to provide more personalized interactions, companies are better able to make their consumers feel seen, heard and understood.  

Over the Horizon 

Shedding light on today’s market transition, Bates mentions it is fueled by the wide adoption of AI, digital, and cloud software – technology that creates dynamic personal customer experiences. New applications of AI, digital, and cloud technologies have rapidly changed fundamental aspects of the global economy. Bates notes that those leading in customer experience are able to do so because they put people where they belong—at the core of who they are and what their organization does—and use technology to deliver empathetic experiences no matter what part of the organization a customer is interacting with.   

Leading companies are starting to invest in experience orchestration, an approach to coordinating data, AI and channels in real time to put employees in position to empathize with their customers.  

The Genesys model of experience orchestration provides companies with a system for listening to customers, understanding and predicting their behaviors, prompting employees to take action to promote positive outcomes, and cycle learnings from customer interactions back into the model. The highly scalable cloud service supports the entire customer lifecycle across marketing, sales, and services engagements. 

 “When companies put empathy in action, customers will get what they’re looking for without wasting unnecessary time or effort,” said Bates. “And, just as important, a company’s employees will have the resources they need to meet a customer’s needs without wasting their own time or effort.” 

Expectations on how a company makes its customers and employees feel will only continue to grow in this experience economy. Organizations that don’t embrace empathy risk losing ground to innovation-minded competitors that are investing in Experience as a Service. Customer loyalty will wane, and employee turnover will grow.  

“Efficiency and effectiveness are no longer enough to build lifelong customer brand loyalty,” Bates added. “In the future, customers will only do business with – and employees will only work at – companies that value providing excellent experiences based in empathy.”