“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”
– Dale Carnegie.
Business is people, and empathy is an essential business skill. Empathy in company culture is the sign of an emotionally intelligent organization. But what does all that mean? How can you build it into your business to make it more efficient and effective? Let us look at what it takes to become an emotionally intelligent organization, and why empathy in company culture is an essential aspect of modern business.
Empathy is a foundational characteristic of emotional intelligence (EI). At its core, empathy is about making others feel heard and understood. The concept of empathy calls for feeling with as opposed to feeling for another person—sympathy. It gets a tad complicated in the context of business. Most often, empathy gets you focusing on dealing with individual customer problems and complaints as they occur. It is considered a strength of character to have the empathy to understand how others feel and then do something about it, thereby avoiding possible conflicts or misunderstandings. It does come naturally to most, but it is also a skill you can learn and develop.
Why Have Empathy?
Empathy can make or break business performance as it is one of the building blocks in a business relationship. Whether it is a manufacturer-customer relationship or the management-employee rapport, empathy is an essential business skill. Businesses today have begun to understand the importance of cultivating a culture of empathy and displaying a high emotional quotient (EQ).
Under emotionally intelligent leadership, a company can grow into a well-rounded organization that is productive and competitive. Empathy in company culture ensures that employees get treated with respect and dignity. Their opinions are valuable; they enjoy the freedom of expression and ease of communication without feeling the pressure of the corporate hierarchy. Higher the level of employee empathy in the company culture, better the level of organizational EQ/EI, which is a sure sign of positive outcomes in areas such as employee satisfaction and team cohesion. Better company culture can also mean improved staff retention. Happy, comfortable, and satisfied staff are the ones who will render better customer service. Thus, empathy in company culture can help an organization succeed at all levels of the business.
For significantly improved business relationships, they must strategize an increase in empathy in the company culture. The organization will then be able to:
- Enhance workforce engagement and boost motivation and productivity.
- Ensure more effective employee performance through better leadership and management of teams and individuals.
- Promote overall emotional well-being and reduce stress among employees.
- Improve customer service and sales approaches by helping employees understand customer needs better.
Customer centricity is when a company focuses on the customer in all company actions, processes, and decisions. It is a strategic approach that seeks to understand customer needs, wants, and expectations to deliver a seamless customer experience that is relevant to them. Customer centricity is a philosophy that says success is a direct result of the ability of a company to understand and meet customer needs. If you wish to deliver customer satisfaction and emerge as a successful business leader, heightened empathy in company culture and customer-centricity must go hand-in-hand.
How Do We Build Empathy?
There are three steps to building Empathy that every employee of the organization can consider:
Step 1: Learning to pay attention and listen.
Before doing anything else to build empathy for business success, start by learning how to listen with complete attention. Do not get busy thinking about what your response will be while the other person is still speaking. Remain in the present and be truly interested in the point of view of others.
Step 2: Asking questions.
Ask questions that will give you more insight into the situation or experience of another person or even another group of people. Maintain open, two-way communication.
Step 3: Humanize the data.
Data-driven empathy is about working with personalized insights and aligning your business with customer-specific requirements. Data can give you a real-time view of the customer’s evolving needs. Business problem solutions can thus be tailored to the T, establishing the company as a customer-centric organization.
Step 4: Create awareness about empathy as a Key Success Factor (KSF).
Propagate empathy in the company culture as a winning strategy for all. Employees who look at empathy in a different light will focus on getting to know customers better, treat them with more respect and undiluted attention, have complete transparency in their communication with customers, and provide them with appropriate solutions. That, in turn, will create a company that customers trust and think of going back to or conducting business with again.
Essentially, that is the way to ensure golden ROI from happy customers and long-standing business relationships. And we can thus conclude that empathy is a sustainability tool too. Is it surprising that even the European Council has recognized Empathy as one of the core competencies for the future?