Empathy verses PROFITS?
Greater Empathy Leads to Can Help You Keep Your Best People
Who Needs Empathy? You Do!
I make a living writing and speaking about emotional and social support in the workplace. That’s another way of saying I talk a lot about empathy. Empathy, it turns out, is very important to successful human relationships. And not just the human relationships you have in your personal life. Also the relationships that exist at your workplace, your school, your transactional life—like when you go shopping, or order goods and services, or sign your kid up for soccer or tae kwon do.
It seems fairly obvious: people say they like doing business at places that make them feel like they are important and valued. People on the other side of the transaction agree. They say that empathy is extremely important in maintaining positive customer relationships which in turn is valuable for their business.
I read something recently that argued this point. Several customer experience (CX) professionals published a report about the business value of customer empathy. Here’s the kicker: the study found that over 90% of their customer service respondents said that empathy was necessary or helpful in creating an excellent customer experience, yet only 36% of them felt that their organizations as a whole see empathy as necessary or helpful.
What does this mean? It means that companies that rely on customers to drive and grow their business don’t really place much emphasis on creating empathy between the customer and service provider. But those same people who interact with the customers for the company say that empathy is very important. So there is a disconnect.
To my mind it is a disconnect by the leadership at these companies who are focused on profits and bottom line. As one respondent put it, “Since my company is a profit-driven company, it’s very difficult for employees to keep a focus on customer empathy—even if they want to. Our profit weekly indicators push us to put profit first.” (Alida, Empathy in Action Report, p.3 2022). Another said that their company only pays lip service to customer empathy; it remains a “nice to have” vs a “must have.” Id.
Wow. Just wow. How can any company which relies on positive customer interactions (and really, that’s pretty much all of them, right?) dismiss the role that empathy plays in the customer experience? An incredible lack of awareness of both how successful companies work and how to secure repeat business and referrals. Now, I realize that many large companies, or semi-monopolies like health care related businesses or public utilities like cable or telephone, could care less about the customer experience. They know that their customers just don’t have that many choices so sometimes they all seem equally bad. (You say you’re going to come fix my wireless sometime on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, between midnight and 3am? Whaaa?)
But for the rest of them, and it’s a lot since businesses with less than 500 employees make up about 99.7% of all companies in the US, according to the SBA (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15359-importance-of-small-business.html), the customer is THE key to even having a business in the first place.
So what is empathy, you say? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Like I said at the top, I’m a motivational speaker and expert on social and emotional support in the workplace. And social and emotional support is, to put it simply, empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand, relate to and share in the feelings of others. It’s different from sympathy, which is the ability to have compassion for the suffering of others. A subtle difference: sympathy says I feel bad for you, let me help; empathy says, I feel your pain because I’ve had that exact same thing happen to me. I have walked in your shoes and I know exactly how to help.
So don’t you want a customer service representative to have walked in your shoes when you’ve had a problem, who can demonstrate understanding of what you’re going through and who can support you to relieve your pain? I know I do! Seems obvious. Yet a lot of corporate leaders don’t seem to make the connection.
My expertise is developing emotional and social support (empathy) between business colleagues, work mates, team members and company wide employees. When companies focus on developing supportive relationships between their employees throughout the business, from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side, bottom line metrics improve. Why? Because business is about relationships, it’s not about money. Well, it is about money, but in my research, I’ve found that if you invest in the relationships, the money follows.
So call me if you’d like to invest more in your people and help them to develop their emotional and social support skills. Bring your company to the next level. On the managerial side, make it a better, more supportive place to work. For your production crew, make it a better, more supportive place to show up every day. And for your customers, your sales floor workers and your service reps, make it a better and more supportive place to build relationships. Your employees will thank you. Your customers will thank you. And that adds up to a better bottom line.
Funny keynote speaker Brad Montgomery is an award winning, Hall of Fame speaker. He got his start as a magician & comedian, but now serves convention and meeting audiences in many fields including health care, real estate / REALTORS, sales people, educators and teachers, and 100s of others.
Brad presents his funny keynotes both live and in person, and virtually over Zoom and a few dozen other platforms.
Give us a call, and we’ll talk about how to customize a program just for you and your audience.