How Does Empathy Affect Your Brand?

May 19, 2016, Written by Amy Tressitt


As a small business owner, we should all understand how our customer service directly impacts the perception of our products or services. It is an integral part of any company, but so often dreaded by consumers.

Take that terrifying 800 number that you have to call when something goes wrong. Not many of us get excited about dialing the help desk. We don’t respond with giddiness at punching in the corresponding numbers to our grandmother’s birthday or our parent’s anniversary in the hopes that it might get us to the actual human operator located across the world. We dread it.

So, why as business owners, do we so often subject our own customers to such torture? Bad customer service. And, I am not just talking about the phone operators at the help desk that greet them, I am talking about the customer-facing help they run into on a daily basis, as well–those that we would consider the face of our business.

We need to understand that our brand is comprised of any perception that exists about our company. And, whether we like it or not, perception is reality when it comes to marketing. How your customer perceives your customer service representatives directly affects how your customer perceives your company.

How Does a Company Improve its Brand Through Customer Service?

Most people’s first inclination is to say ‘through faster service.’ And, you would be correct – especially when it comes to businesses in which speed should be part of the experience (i.e. fast food restaurants, the teller line at the bank, call center transactions).

One study conducted by Gallup looked at how engaged customers felt after getting service at a bank. It found that customers who received faster service were six times more likely to be more engaged with the company, thereby, improving perceptions and cementing that as a brand attribute. So, faster is better. But usually only when that is what the customer expects.

Increase Your Empathy

In that same study conducted by Gallup, the customers who gave the bank high ratings on the teller’s attentiveness, willingness to help, and ability to understand the problem, were nine times more likely to be engaged. Empathy from the tellers was 150% more likely to engage the customers than speedy service. We all want to believe that we are understood.

From a psychological sense, empathy is known to increase our emotional connections. According to an article written by David R. Hamilton, PhD, “You can actually see the difference in the brain. Empathy lights up the insula, which is an area of the brain that connects the flow of information between the front of the brain and the emotional areas.” By increasing the level of empathy, we are increasing our emotional connection to the brand.

Far more important than getting your customers out in a speedy manner is getting your customers to take away the feelings of a great service experience. So, faster may be better when it comes to improving your brand through customer service, but empathy is best.

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Amy Tressitt

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