How’s your audience feeling nowadays? As a business, you always want to know as much as you can about your customer base – their needs, behaviors and how they feel emotionally. With everything that’s been going on this year, having empathy is more important than any other moment in our lifetime.
Empathy (n.): The ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings.
Being empathetic goes beyond putting yourself in another person’s shoes. It’s an important variable that should be practiced in all business activities, especially in sales and marketing. It’s simple: the people who feel the most understood about their challenges, are more likely to do business with you. And in today’s consumer-driven climate, sales and marketing teams need to work harder than ever to understand the issue at hand, proactively. For businesses to deliver genuine value, sales and marketing professionals must be empathetic and analyze situations through varying perspectives.
“We all differ in how we perceive the world, and it’s this difference that must guide our communications with others as we seek to understand their perspectives.” – Tony Robbins
Five Ways to be More Empathetic
When you have the ability to see things from another’s perspective, it broadens your horizon and sheds light on a new understanding of circumstances. Some people are more naturally empathetic than others, but there are simple exercises that anyone can do to practice empathy and create more meaningful connections with customers and prospects.
1. Listen to Understand, Rather Than to Respond
Affirm to customers, their thoughts and concerns are being heard. Take their feelings into consideration and provide real solutions to their interests. There are two key phrases to listen for: “Our goal” and “We’ve had issues in the past.” Both hold the opportunity to offer invaluable information addressing matters and presenting a resolution. Additional ways to display active listening include attentive body language (i.e., good posture and uncrossed arms), using their own words in your responses and asking relevant follow-up questions.
2. Shift Your Focus
Instead of only focusing on selling, shift the attention to understanding the emotions – feelings and behaviors – of your audience. Ask how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing, and how you can be of help. Compassion and a deeper understanding of your audience will lead to future interactions, as you identify ways to accommodate customers and provide them with what they need, easily and quickly.
3. Share Your Process
Your customers may feel frustrated if you’re not taking the time to listen to their challenges. This disregard can escalate if you jump to a solution without explaining essential details. Your customers are coming to you for a reason, and you should teach your solution well enough that they feel comfortable and closely involved in the process.
4. Practice Lead Nurturing Tactics
Is your audience listening? You can’t really answer that question unless you know precisely what they want, which is where the empathy comes in. Lead nurturing is a process that educates your customers about you while helping you better understand them.
HubSpot describes lead nurturing as “the purposeful process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey, positioning your company as the best (and safest) choice to enable them to achieve their objectives.”You’re guiding a customer along the buyer’s journey by offering them assistance and content through each stage. Demonstrating a commitment to satisfy one’s needs, customers will feel understood and cared for and will be more likely to purchase from you when they are ready.
5. Ask for Feedback
One of the most effective ways to express empathy is by asking for feedback. Consider a survey or poll, for customers to complete. This not only lets you know how business efforts are being received, but it also gives customers a chance to be heard. After listening to what they have to say and making a change, customers may feel a valuable sense of reassurance that their feelings made an impact.
Empathy in Digital Marketing & Communications
We’ve covered how to be empathetic in your interactions with customers, prospects and employees, but practicing empathy goes beyond a conversation. Businesses use the internet and social media each day to broadcast their messages to a wider audience. Think about the digital communications that your business is delivering. Analyze what messages they’re sharing, the tone being used, and how someone on the receiving end may interpret the information. Your customers are looking for relatable subject matter. This can be difficult to achieve without practicing empathy.
Moving forward, reflect on the content you’re sharing: Is it sensitive to the needs of others? When posting, is your motive to help and understand people? Are you trying to appear people-centric instead of profit-centric?
Be Proactive to Provide a Better Experience
Compassion and appreciation in your business activities can make a world of difference. Observe what you are doing proactively to show empathy and what you can improve upon. Focus on seeing situations through another perspective and watch as their loyalty and trust in your organization grows.