The word and the premise of empathy have become quite the buzzword in business and marketing. Especially so since the advent of and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There is widespread consensus that having empathy is a good thing. A must-have to connect with buyers and customers.
A place to start for most organizations and individuals is by having a common definition of empathy.
Empathy is at its most basic level the ability for one to walk in another’s shoes. To experience their world from another’s point of view. Essentially, to have a deeper understanding of what another is experiencing.
Often what is missed is that empathy, as defined above, is something that is gained. When it comes to buyers and customers, this can be especially challenging. It is fair to surmise that empathy, in this challenging state, is something to be earned.
To have a deeper understanding of what buyers and customers are experiencing, you must at first gain a deeper understanding of what they are experiencing. From this perspective then, businesses and their functions of marketing and sales must first earn the right to gain this deeper understanding.
Earning the right to gain empathy is an investment business should make. Often, empathy is looked at as a fuzzy feel-good concept. As something people should innately just have. Rather than as a foundational skill to be developed. As a critical business investment to gain the required deeper understanding needed from buyers and customers to be empathetic.
When businesses invest in such talent development, they empower their teams to understand, as well as experience, what buyers and customers go through as they pursue reaching goals and solving solutions. Which can involve a range of emotions such as frustration, fear, anxiety, helplessness, etc.
First earning the right and then gaining the required deeper understanding involves doing so through qualitative buyer insights research. It is not something you can ask someone to just run an analytical data report and magically empathy is revealed. Businesses can earn the right to gain empathy when they demonstratively show their buyers and customers the willingness to invest in doing so.
One of the key outcomes of investing in buyer insights research and developing buyer personas is you are developing a key critical skill amongst your teams. Buyer personas, when researched and developed correctly, empower your teams with a critical tool to gain the deeper understanding they need to be empathetic.
My experience over two decades has led me to believe that the more you can demonstrate understanding what buyers and customers experience, the more you earn the right to gain an even deeper understanding.