In a business-oriented era, customer culture is often quick and unsubstantial. But for the Customer Love community, inclusivity, empathy and communication in personal and professional lives is key to employee and customer relationships.
The annual Customer Love Summit 2020 was held Friday morning in the District Hall to discuss methods to improve customer and employee relations. Six guest speakers, coming from a variety of companies, covered topics including diversity, inclusion, conflict, community, experience and accessibility.
Trish Fontanilla, co-founder of the Customer Love Series, said the purpose of the summit was to find common ground.
“[The event is] a really great way for people to learn from people that are essentially doing very similar work to them, but they might be of a different background or they might be working with a different population,” Fontanilla said. “I think there’s an opportunity for all of us to learn from each other.”
Heang Ly, an independent consultant at Higher Level Consulting, spoke on the significance of trusting relationships in the workplace at the event. She said she was empowered to use her voice because of her personal background.
“Growing up in America and growing up in a household that’s very traditional in Cambodian values limited my voice,” Ly said in an interview. “I always wanted to be doing something where I felt you can empower people and that people felt empowered to be their authentic self, and to really embrace that and then use that power within them to transform and change things.”
Ly said empowering an individual can lead to building a stronger community, thus leading to better relationships in the workplace.
“I think it’s also important to really find key relationships that will support you, that will help you walk through the process of learning,” Ly said in an interview. “Like a partner in your transformation and your growing.”
Chief Innovation Officer at tech startup Sunu Inc. Fernando Albertorio said empathy is important in company culture, specifically on the inclusivity of people within marginalized communities.
“We need to really have a thought on inclusion,” Albertorio said in an interview. “Students need to be aware that the products or the solutions or the problems that they’re looking at have an impact, not just for who they think that it has, but to look also around at other folks, who it could be helpful to.”
Albertorio said it is important to include people with disabilities when considering product innovation.
“Look towards persons with disabilities or people who are blind or sight impaired to be using as users of your technology of users to your potential product,” Albertorio said in an interview. “Think about accessibility early on in development or include accessibility which is very important into the development of your thing that you’re going to create.”
Sophie O’Neill, an event coordinator with the Cambridge Innovation Center who went to the summit, said her favorite session was about empathy because of her interest in psychology.
“I think it’s so important to see somebody as a human first and really hone into their experience and figure out how you can leverage that to do the work that you do,” O’Neill said in an interview. “That is super important to me and I loved hearing about it more in this application.”
Jonathan Shin, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, volunteered at the Customer Love Summit. As a member of on-campus service fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, he wrote in a Facebook message that he was approached by a brother about the opportunity to volunteer.
“When I heard about what the conference was about and the topics they would discuss I was really interested in helping out,” Shin wrote.
Shin wrote he thought it was a great opportunity to learn about how to improve customer relations.
“It’s all about having that customer-first mindset, and not only that,” Shin wrote. “But creating an amazing employee experience in turn so they treat your customers better. It was an awesome opportunity to meet new people/network.”