What is empathy ?
I define empathy as a “feeling of one-ness with someone”. That someone can be anyone – your colleague, partner or customer.
While, empathy can occur naturally for someone whom we have met & known – it doesnt come very naturally for someone you dont know (read customers).
What can it do ?
Having an Empathy can be a game changer in today’s world. I am not just talking about empathy while designing products – but it is important to an organization as a whole.
It is the reason why Apple became Apple – Steve Jobs was able to stand in the shoes of the average person and imagine the struggle with computers. The starting point for all the product improvement at Apple was empathy. Empathy then manifested into minimalistic design & eventually the perfect product – which striked a chord with people.
It is the reason why some companies are better at serving their customers. Empathy can be labelled as “Customer Obsession” – something which Amazon greatly believes in. That’s why Amazon is number #1 no matter what it does.
It is the reason why some companies can expand their product line & width. These companies can understand their customers like no one. Take the case of Xiaomi’s entry in Indian market. It empathized with its customers – understood their needs, started with Phones & today they are selling TVs too.
It is the reason why some companies can survive – despite low cost advantage. Take the case of South West Airlines – though it was a no frills airline – it quickly gain reputation of a great service provider.
It is the reason why some companies can create a great culture. Take the case of Google & Microsoft. These companies have great empathy for all of its stakeholders – Customers, Employees and now even the Planet (I guess Greta is laughing)
It would be very naive of me & a great selection bias if I just say that empathy was the only reason for the great success of these companies. But nonetheless, I believe – empathy was a great starting point for these companies. For some companies it became more of a principle or a culture thing (ex: Amazon, Apple & many others) and has helped these companies to make better products and stay in business longer.