The Human Touch: Why Empathy with Customers Matters and AI Can’t Do That

The Human Touch: Why Empathy with Customers Matters

For those of you who’ve been binge-watching Succession and Ted Lasso lately –  businesses, no matter the location and size, are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) in droves, hoping to:

  • Streamline processes 
  • Enhance customer experiences
  • And drive growth AI

And, whether you’re a fan or not or you’ve seen Terminator 2 way too many times – AI undoubtedly provides numerous benefits. However, there is one critical aspect AI cannot replicate: empathy. Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, plays a vital role in building meaningful connections with customers. 

In this blog, we will spelunk into: 

  • Why empathy is indispensable for businesses 
  • Examine the limitations of AI in empathetic interactions 
  • And underscore the significance of maintaining a human touch in customer interactions
  • The Power of Empathy

How often has someone told you a personal story you could easily relate to? Whether it deals with love or lust, struggle or success, hardships or victories – looking at them and saying, “I feel you, I hear you,”  can go a long way to establishing a credible relationship. With that comes an emotional connection. And with that comes trust. 

When customers feel understood and valued, they:

  • Remain loyal 
  • Recommend the brand to others
  • And even forgive occasional mistakes 

Empathy enables businesses to anticipate customer needs, offer personalized solutions, and deliver exceptional experiences beyond transactional interactions. By demonstrating empathy, companies can showcase their commitment to putting customers first, fostering brand loyalty and long-term success.

  • The Limitations of AI when Situations Require Empathy

Can AI  help open your phone without touching it? Yes. Can AI understand you and only you when you scream out who was the 1972 NBA Champion? Yes. And can AI analyze every detail known to man? Absolutely. But AI doesn’t know how it feels to lose a parent. Witness the birth of a child. Or how it feels when you know you’re in love. While these elements may not necessarily pertain to the product or service you provide, it’s these commonalities you can have with a prospective customer that will help secure a bond, unlike anything AI could compute.

Yes, AI systems may be proficient at understanding and responding to customer queries based on predefined patterns and datasets. Still, they struggle to truly grasp the emotional nuances that shape human interactions. Empathy is a profoundly human trait involving intuition and emotional intelligence – qualities machines cannot replicate—even a T-1000. 

But why is AI incapable of empathy? First, there is a lack of emotional intelligence (EQ). As we’ve outlined in this blog, emotional intelligence is a game-changer. And AI algorithms are based on logical reasoning and statistical analysis, devoid of emotional understanding and intuition. Second, AI cannot interpret non-verbal cues: Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language provide a vital context in understanding emotions. And lastly, AI is limited in understanding subjective experiences. Or in other words, AI lacks perspective. But hell, many of us spend a lifetime trying to acquire perspective, so let’s not be too hard on AI for that one.

  • The Importance of  Human Touch

Why do we date? It’s hard enough to maintain our own lives. Why would we muck things up by adding another human into the equation? Because we all constantly crave human connection. Don’t believe it. Think about how excited you would get on the phone with a customer service representative during COVID-19. Or better yet, sticking to the theme of customer service representatives – how long do you have patience for an automated telephone representative or chatbot when you have an issue? Ten seconds? Or do you scream “Customer Representative” when the prompt asks you to describe your issue? 

And remember, if everyone is leaning towards implementing AI, you can stand out by providing superior, empathetic customer service.


Human interactions provide numerous advantages: 

  1. Emotional connection: Customers covet emotional connection and understanding. Empathy helps establish trust and long-term, long-lasting relationships. 
  2. Adaptability and creativity: Do you know why your fingers prune when in the water for too long?  It’s your body adapting to its environment. Pruning helps with grip. People can adapt to unique situations and provide creative solutions based on personal experiences and emotional intelligence. 
  3. Conflict resolution: When customer issues escalate or require delicate handling, human agents can de-escalate situations, showcase empathy, and find satisfactory solutions.

Undoubtedly and unequivocally, empathy is the cornerstone of exceptional customer experiences. While AI can and does provide remarkable capabilities, replicating the authentic emotional understanding that comes naturally to humans is impossible. If you prioritize empathy and maintaining a human touch, your business can and will create deeper connections, inspire loyalty, and differentiate itself in this rapidly growing, technology-driven world.