What is Empathy?

Pure empathy is a person’s ability to feel someone else’s feelings as it those feelings were their own.  It is most often described as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

The ability to empathise is probably the key ingredient in building personal friendships and socialising generally and it can be demonstrated not just by what one says but also facial expressing, body language and through what we do. To be empathetic is to do what is appropriate in any particular situation:

  •          If someone is in a hurry it is empathetic to treat them as if they are in a hurry
  •          If someone is unsure then it is empathetic to re-assure them
  •          If you see someone struggling then it is empathetic to support them
  •          If you can anticipate someone’s future need then you can alleviate that need
     It is clear that demonstrable empathetic behaviour encourages better relations and friendships are predominantly built on empathy. There are many associated words such as trust, respect, courtesy etc. that whilst all different in their own way all build on common empathetic values. There is a wonderful video by Jeremy Rifkin which clearly articulates the base groundings of empathy in society.  I thoroughly recommend it to you.  Click on 'The Empathic Civilization' to view video. Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.


Over the past 30 years we have failed to translate our personal empathy skills into the workplace and instead preferred to concentrate on delivering consistent process.  More recently the Customer Experience has come to the fore and there is significantly greater recognition of the need to build sustainable relationships with Customers.  Empathy is a key ingredient and is the only human characteristic that has been proven to correlate directly with profit. 

Many companies have attempted to capture the essence of the human interaction through Customer Satisfaction Surveys; Advocacy Predictions and Effort Scores and yet none have managed to significantly improve their customers experiences or to reap the benefits of sustainable relationships with their customers.

Over the past two decades Harding & Yorke has designed and developed a measurement methodology that captures ‘how it feels to be a customer’ of an organisation.  In the Contact Centre environment research conducted by Professors Merlin Stone, Yuksel Ekinci and Jamie Lywood proved that the methodology was both highly reliable and correlated to Profitability (ROCE).

In the corporate environment we only have a few tools available to us to build empathy with our customers and, over the past 18 years, we have designed and developed measurement tools and intervention Programmes that improve an organisation's relations with their internal and external customers through empathy engagements.  In 2009 academics were able to prove a high correlation between empathetic behaviour and profitability.  To the best of our knowledge this is the only customer experience metric in the World to achieve this accolade.

For more information please contact Phil Owens on +44(0)7889 176213
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