The Case For Compassionate Empathy

One of the most sought after skills for a Customer Centric Professional is empathy. It’s easy to find article after article on how important it is the support world.

Empathy is the ability to imagine oneself in the shoes of another to see their perspective. It’s imagining as if you’re having the issue the person that your helping is having.

While empathy as a term is well liked, I don’t think it’s perfect for a Customer Centric Professional. It doesn’t convey action to resolve the situation.

To be in the right mindset for helping customers, we need to introduce compassion. Often empathy and compassion get mixed as if they’re synonyms. They’re related words.

Compassion is being consciousness of someone’s distress with a desire to ease it.

The difference between the two seems small at first. Zoom out to the bigger picture, and the differences are vast. Compassion is acknowledging the problem and working to resolve it!

Still, on its own, compassion isn’t enough. It has its flaws. It doesn’t put one in the position of another person.

Think of both words from the viewpoint of a Customer Centric Professional. It’s hard to create a connection with someone if you can’t imagine their situation. And it’s hard to create a feature if you don’t understand the customer’s problems. It’s also hard to solve a problem if you’re not driven to solve it.

Let’s improve empathy and compassion and use them together. This fusion creates a much more powerful skill: Compassionate Empathy.

The definition of Compassionate Empathy for a Customer Centric Professional is:

Acknowledging and valuing the position of the person that you’re helping and working to resolve their situation

When framed like this, the viewpoint becomes a super-power.

It means that when someone has a concern, you acknowledge it. You value the concern. When necessary, it’s okay to say you’re sorry. Or if you’ve been in that situation before, you can relate to the customer.

Your next step is working to resolve the concern. Because you have compassion, you’re driven to take care of the issue.

Compassionate empathy conveys action while understanding the position of the person you’re helping.


Compassionate empathy isn’t something one hires and has for the rest of their life. Like any other skill, it requires practice. It’s not set it and forget it. Somedays you’re able to channel more compassionate empathy and some days you’re not. If the pains of a customer base changes, it requires one to learn about those new pains.

Not every response requires a response filled with Compassion empathy. Sometimes all that’s needed is hospitality. That’s a friendly and warm response. Sometimes someone needs a reminder of their username, how to do a task, etc. These answers don’t require you to enter the position of the person or be sympathetic to their situation.


Reading and listening that formed these thoughts