The Difference Between Compassion and Empathy

Posted 9 January 2013 4:34 PM by Laurie Parish

It’s well known that one quality of great leaders is the ability to show and feel compassion; both internally towards employees and peers, and outwardly towards customers.

The late, great, and prolific sales guru Zig Ziglar had many quotes about compassion including, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care… about them.”

Customer care takes this a step further, by showing empathy rather than compassion to our customers.

What is the difference between compassion and empathy?

Compassion is the ability to feel for another living being.

Empathy is the ability to not only understand another’s  feelings, but also to become one with that person’s distress… to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they’re going through in that situation.

Why is this important when your job is customer retention?

Think back to any unsatisfactory customer service experiences you’ve had. How did it make you feel when someone in customer service did not make an effort to not only resolve your issue, but also didn’t even try to connect with you on a human level? Not very well loved, right? As a customer I tend to walk away from doing business with  those people and the companies  they work for.

Why is it then that empathy is not shown consistently in customer service?

Well, you have to look to the leadership. We all lead or follow by example. If the leaders of your company are compassionate and caring then the people who work with customers are able to relate on an even higher level of emotion. Because when you’re cared for… you care. Caring is a company culture that needs to be embraced by every single employee, from the CEO down.

It’s not easy to find a company to work for that shares these values with their employees, but in November of 2012 I found one. Being a Customer Success Manager at Adlib is made easier by being empowered and cared for. As they say out there… pay it forward. I say, gladly.