11/18/18 • Five Ways Empathy Can Benefit Your Business

As posted in the Gaston Gazette

We all know the inherent power that compelling visuals and text have to grab a customer’s attention. But it’s also important to have a strong understanding how those words and images make customers feel. That’s why empathy is a hot topic right now and is considered a key to contemporary business success.

Want to know how your business can benefit from understanding empathy’s power and incorporating it effectively into your day-to-day operations? Here are a few ideas:

  • It can help you better understand your customers. Glen Hartman at AdWeek notes that while businesses are often good at learning to personalize their advertisements and shopping experiences, those are often geared toward appealing to a particular customer demographic and don’t change based on a customer’s context at a given moment. For example, if you are a working mom, a business might gear its products and services to accommodate your work hours and your limited time. But what if you’re a working mom who has just broken her arm? Your needs could be quite different. Maybe you need to have the ability to pay using your phone and have someone bring your purchases out for curb pick-up, for example. If you can find a way to gain information on your customers’ current situations, it will help you better understand their changing needs and will help you better serve them, which will in turn lead to increased loyalty.
  • It can improve the effectiveness of your online engagement. There’s been a lot of reporting done on how millennials are losing the capacity for empathy; social psychologists have reported a decline in “perspective taking and empathetic concern” in populations of college students since 2000. But Abhilash Patel argues in Forbes that the empathy hasn’t disappeared; instead, it’s moved online. According to Patel, many of the stats about millennial empathetic seeking and expression support the fact that this demographic seeks out connection less often in person and more through social media. As a result, try to see social media not as an irritant or as a box you need to check off, but instead as one of the increasingly rich online opportunities to connect with younger potential customers through storytelling, calls to action and other meaningful modes of customer engagement.
  • It can help you simplify and focus. It’s true that empathy has clear ethical value: it helps you to understand another person’s perspective. But from a practical perspective, it also can help streamline your business’s focus. Empathy is often the missing ingredient in business promotional efforts and that’s a loss because it gives businesses insight into another person’s thought processes, decision making and attention span. Instead of seeing empathy as some kind of hard-to-pin-down or overly emotional component, instead think of it as a useful promotional tool: when used with precision and purpose, empathy can hone your business’s effectiveness so that you adequately address these three target areas.
  • It can help your customers connect not just with your product, but with your morals and values. According to Jay Gronlund over at Biznology, there’s currently a backlash going on against the thread of negativity and anger in our society right now, and in response, a lot of businesses are focusing on “morality-via-branding.” Rather than focusing on moralizing, this approach tries to establish an emotional connection with customers that makes clear the things that you value. That connection can help customers feel like their favorite businesses and brands are reliable, trustworthy and care about them, too, offering a space where people can engage in interactions that benefit both parties rather than simply offer a transactional exchange of goods and services.
  • It helps customers understand why your work matters. Using empathy to establish connections and relationships with customers isn’t just about selling your products/services or encouraging brand loyalty. It’s also about helping customers understand why what you do matters. It’s about getting customers to recognize that your work plays an important societal role by illustrating how you and your business are serving in a responsible, civic-minded role that gives back and encourages community connections – all of this while, at the same time, reaping your own benefits. And getting customers to recognize that your role matters to your community-at-large is yet another step in the right direction.

It’s clear that empathy plays a powerful role in getting customers in your door and keeping them there. But it’s also an important part of illustrating your business’s continued social value, so finding ways to boost your empathetic qualities is guaranteed to pay off not just now, but in the long run.