Empathy-building intelligence: Four drivers of human behaviour


Share on LinkedIn

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a blog post, written on how writers could connect and attract with more readers- through understanding the emotions of these readers. This blog post revealed the importance of understanding the four drivers of human behaviour: Dreams, desires, fear and frustration. In the blog, Leanne Regalla, emphasized how developing empathy towards readers could go a long way to endearing them to one’s content and inspire sharing. In the same regard, she recommends that stepping into the readers’ head, is one of the best ways to showing empathy and this led her to opine: “ The key to showing empathy is convincing your audience you know exactly what they are going through. Show them you understand and even share their concerns and preoccupations. If you know your readers’ biggest dreams, deepest desires, most paralyzing fears and most frequent frustrations, then you hold the keys to a passionately engaged audience”.

We could apply this same principle to customer experience and digital marketing. The important secret to endearing your customers to your brand and delivering a great customer experience is through empathy building- with a good understanding of the four drivers of human behaviour. Great customer experience is a combination of all four or at least one of the drivers. The rhetorical question I would pose at you before we look at the drivers are: Have you ever had a great customer experience, without it making you believe more in your personal dreams, fuelling your desire, allaying your fear or mitigating your frustrations? A great customer experience should at least tick one of the drivers box for it to be considered ‘GREAT.’

Four drivers of human behaviour in empathy-building

Dreams: Patrick Murphy, expressed that to be able to please the new breed of customers, companies need to learn to trigger their emotional impulses- which tends to override rational thinking. He went further to add that, companies should sell products and experiences that appeal to the dreams of their customers- that completely captures their imaginations. When I was in a running shop, looking at purchasing a new pair of running shoes, the sales assistant recommended a pair of running shoes, which was in line with my goal of improving my running time. He advised that those pair of running shoes had maximum support and would prevent me from runner’s knee injuries- and also help my acceleration- which ultimately is in line, with my dream of improving my marathon running time. The customer experience was delivered in line with my dream- as the assistant showed much empathy and journeyed into my head, to wish me a great race for my next scheduled marathon. It was instrumental, to my decision in purchasing the recommended pairs of running shoes, due to a knowledgeable, empathetic and emotionally intelligent staff that was sensitive enough to share in my dream.

Desires: Drew Eric Whitman wrote a book titled: “Cashvertising: How to use more than 100 secrets of Ad-agency Psychology to make big money selling anything to anyone.” In this book, he revealed eight basic desires of humans as:

• Survival and Enjoyment of Life
• Enjoyment of food and beverage
• Freedom from pain, fear and damage
• Sexual Companionship
• Comfortable living conditions
• Winning
• Care and protection of loved ones
• Social approval
Now, understanding these basic desires of humans would be instrumental in shaping the brand communication and customer experience, to generate the necessary empathy in persuading and wowing the customer. Since, we as human’s desire enjoyment of life, the critical thought would be: if the customer experience delivered by a company makes our lives more enjoyable or a mere torture. I have been in retail settings, when a customer enthuses that the service is appalling and makes them feel sick in their stomach.

Fears: Carty Medrano wrote about the top 10 strong human fears, with a view that: fear is an emotion which protects us from the threats in our surroundings and which evolves to be more complicated. The ten strong fears she identified are: losing your freedom, the unknown, pain, disappointment, misery, loneliness, ridicule, rejection, death and Failure. Most people in life have at least one of these fears- even as customers. Muhammad Ghaznavi, believes, delivering a relaxing customer experience is very important to allaying one of the abovementioned fears- as some customers, come with some inherent fears- that only an emotionally intelligent customer-centric organization, would be sensitive enough to address such concerns with quality products and stress-free customer experience.

Frustration: Micah Solomon wrote an article on Forbes titled: “Secrets of a frustration-free customer experience.” In this work, he stated that the first technique, for helping customer’s quell their frustration, is helping them find things for themselves. He further added that, customers are less frustrated when they have a genuine and meaningful contact with the company-on the basis that the company has empathetic, intelligent and empowered humans working for it. The other two ways to mitigating frustration as put forward by Micah Solomon are: Personalization of service and getting to the customer before they realize they need you.

Empathy as conceived by the psychology today, is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. It basically means, putting yourself in their shoes (even if your feet size is different) and fell what they are feeling. In the words of Daniel Goleman on empathy building: “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection- or compassionate action.” Empathy-building intelligence is critical to delivering an excellent customer experience and brand communication- as it involves making the dreams, desires, fears and frustrations of the customers the priority- leading to a compassionate action- which further paves the way for genuine connection. Putting on the shoes of the customer helps us leave footprints of great customer experience and brand identity.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here