Not displaying empathy as a company can cause your marketing strategy to go terribly, terribly wrong. You only need to look at United’s developing PR nightmare for a prime example.
The Importance of Empathy in Business
But the importance of empathy in business goes beyond preserving your company’s image. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) did a study that analyzed the relationship between empathy and job performance, evaluating over 6,700 managers from 38 countries.
The study gathered data from both subordinates and superiors. Employees ranked their managers according to how attuned the managers were to the staff’s personal situations. Did they:
- realize when employees were overworked?
- care about employees’ personal problems and losses?
- show interest in employees’ “needs, hopes, and dreams”?
Then those in leadership over the managers rated them on their overall job performance.
There was no question from the study that strong empathy skills are connected to superior job performance. The CCL’s results showed that “empathic emotion as rated from the leader’s subordinates positively predicts job performance ratings from the leader’s boss.”
Yet no matter what industry you’re in, it is only too easy to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on how your service benefits your company. Your business does need to stay afloat, but caring about the needs of your customers is a vital part of making that happen.
Literal and Figurative Customer Pain Points
The importance of empathy in business is a lesson that the people at J. Reyna Law Firm have taken to heart.
J. Reyna focuses exclusively on defending clients who have suffered severe personal injuries. Empathy is important in any business, but it’s crucial in an industry where the goal is to assist people who are suffering.
The firm has helped many people who have experienced trauma while working in construction or oilfields, as well as those who have been hurt in automotive accidents. Clients include people who have needed complex medical care for damage done to the brain or spinal cord.
People who experience a serious injury are not merely going through physical pain. They also have anxiety about how their injuries are going to affect the future. Will they be able to go back to work and when will they be able to do so? What will be the impact on their families? Will they have enough money to make it through until everything is resolved?
And perhaps most importantly of all, will justice be done?
Experience Provides a Unique Perspective
Juan Reyna has a special understanding of his clients because he himself has had an immediate family member who suffered a traumatic injury. That situation gave Reyna a singular point of view for approaching how he does his job as a personal injury lawyer.
Reyna says, “It’s sad but society is so accustomed to reading about accidents on the news, that we’re desensitized to hearing about accidents to a degree … However when it’s YOUR family in the hospital or when it’s YOUR son/daughter/wife/husband that was hurt or even killed by an irresponsible party — there are no words for the pain you feel.”
He now helps victims of personal injuries with a true understanding of the financial crisis that’s facing them. He understands the emotional pain they’re going through, as well as their desire to right the wrongs they’ve experienced.
Empathy-Driven Business Practices
But if you merely feel your customers’ pain points and do nothing about them, having empathy does no good. Compassion must shape your business practices.
With his clients’ needs in mind, Reyna works on a “contingency basis.” He doesn’t charge people for a consultation fee, and he doesn’t charge for his services unless he wins a case.
He and his team put in the time to determine what is required to help each client succeed. His focus is not on earning money by taking as many cases as possible, simply hoping that some will be successful. Rather, he makes sure to explore every opportunity that could help all of his clients win. He also gives his clientele close personal attention and makes sure to communicate well with them.
3 Lessons on Empathy
1. Make sure you’re offering to solve a problem that you truly understand. By doing so, you’ll gain enormous credibility with your customers and actually be able to help them better.
2. Don’t merely focus on how you can benefit your company. Yes, you need to keep your interests in mind. But remember that by helping your customers, you are also helping yourself.
3. Adapt the structure of your processes to the needs of your customers in a way that accommodates the importance of empathy in business. Can you adjust the way you accept payments so that you relieve some of your customers’ stress while still making a profit? Any way you can make the buying experience easier for them will also benefit you.
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