Meet Empathica – The Tech Company That’s Helping Retailers Go 2.0

March 11th, 2011 | Posted in Company Profiles by

Since we wrote the article Empathica has opened a 2nd office in downtown Toronto.

Next time you get handed a receipt, take a closer look. If you’ve just visited a Shoppers Drug Mart, Canadian Tire, or any number of other major Canadian retailers or restaurants, you will see at the bottom of that slip of paper a message that directs you to complete an online customer service survey.

Chances are the company behind that URL is Empathica, a company that for the past decade has been on the leading edge of measuring and mining customer satisfaction. As invisible as it is ubiquitous—last year it surveyed some 30 million customers—Mississauga-based Empathica uses savvy web application development to help retailers collect customer feedback.


“This is the future of customer satisfaction. Brands need to engage customers, and the best way to drive traffic locally is through personal recommendations.”
Simon Palmer, Chief Technology Officer at Empathica


That data typically identifies potential problems at individual locations. But increasingly, Empathica is now at the vanguard of helping retailers shift into social media. “We’re one of only a few companies that really understand the web survey collection industry,” says chief technology officer Simon Palmer. “We think we know what’s next, and it’s closely aligned to social media. It’s all about how you do it.”

Helping Retailers Buy Into Social Media

Social media presents most retail brands with a confounding risk-reward scenario: most understand the power of generating and sharing authentic customer endorsements on Facebook and Twitter, but many worry about opening themselves up to negative comments. “We offer controlled exposure to social media channels,” says Palmer. “We already have the infrastructure because we’re inviting people to make comments about their service experience. It’s just a matter of teasing out loyalty, identifying a high propensity to recommend.”

With only a subtle twist, surveys that once focused on identifying operational deficiencies can now also spot marketing opportunities. By asking the right questions, the survey determines which individuals had a good experience and present them with the option of posting a recommendation to their Twitter account or Facebook page. Thanks to codes on the receipt, the web survey even identifies what was purchased, and can pre-populate content for the social media post.

The result is a potent message. Loyal customers are critical to the profitability of any retail location, and Palmer contends that genuine word-of-mouth endorsements within personal networks are far more powerful than local advertising. “There’s a whole sub-industry in social media being built up around finding people who will say nice things about some particular brand,” says Palmer. “But Empathica is finding potential brand advocates every day.”

The impact on household brands is huge, and it’s attracting a lot of new business. Much of the success is due to smart, high-quality software development, and the close-knit team of 25 software developers is set to expand by another 10 to accommodate growing demand.

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