On Empathy: Why Should You Care?

Article contributed by Cindy Tripp, Design Thinking Specialist, Leonora Polonsky & Associates LLC

I love Tire Discounters.  How can that be? 

It’s simple — Tire Discounters has empathy for me:

  • They greet me with respect and have a comfortable waiting room. Often they provide immediate service, even without an appointment.
  • They know that I only want the best tires and don’t try to sell me off-brands; they do help me time my purchase to get best deals.
  • There is very little turnover so they know me despite the long purchase cycle.
  • They go above and beyond, like staying late to fix my tire on a cold, rainy evening.
  • Even the weekly humor on their signs makes me smile.

Like other Brands that show consumer empathy, Tire Discounters is rapidly growing.

Building empathy requires leaving a business executives’ comfort zone and stepping into
the lives of the people they serve. Simple tips for building empathy:

Path to Empathy

Your Stance

Reframe your view from research mode (“target”) to human mode (person)

Watch your language.  If you focus on targets, you will spend energy aiming arrows at them.

Focus on a few people & really get to know them; be open to listening to “extremes” of your potential user base

Enter into her life versus expecting her to enter your brand’s world

Understand her hopes and dreams in the broader context of her life

Be curious, without judging

Imagine her story and what looks like help to her

For now, don’t consider feasibility issues

Each time we move out of research mode into human mode, we build empathy for our consumers and something magical happens. It’s not easy, but it is a great way to achieve business goals and personal fulfillment by making a difference in consumers lives. Hey, if a tire store can do it, so can you.