“Empathy is something that every human has but our empathy muscle has atrophied.” This week on the On Brand podcast, we talked about a timely, relevant topic—empathy. Now more than ever, people want empathy from brands. Yet, collectively, we’ve never been less empathetic. How do we fix this and how can we use these tools to better connect with our customers? Rob Volpe of insight strategy firm Ignite 360 explains on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.
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About Rob Volpe
Rob Volpe is an astute observer of life and a master storyteller who brings empathy and compassion to the human experience. As CEO of insight strategy firm Ignite 360, he leads a team of insights, strategy, and creative professionals serving the world’s leading brands across a range of industries.
As a thought leader in the role of empathy in marketing and the workplace, he frequently talks on the topic, is cited in media, and writes about building and applying empathy. He’s finishing his first book, Everyday Americans, which explores his own journey to an empathetic understanding of Americans through his ethnographic work.
The five steps to empathy. At a time when we’re struggling with a collective empathy deficit, it’s important to understand the five steps that lead to better empathy:
- Dismantle judgment
- Ask good questions
- Actively listen
- Integrate into understanding
- Solution making
Rob gave a summary of each during our interview.
How does empathy help us connect with customers? First, Rob detailed the two types of empathy—cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Affective empathy is the emotional, squishy thing that can be hard to grasp. However, cognitive empathy is perspective-taking, which is critical in the world of work as we’re constantly trying to “understand our consumers or colleagues.”
“We need both the what data and the why data.” As Rob said, “The what data is the quantitative and the why data is the qualitative. We need both the data and the story.”
What does our empathy crisis mean when it comes to COVID-19? “250,000 have died,” Rob noted grimly. To better understand how people feel about this, Ignite 360 launched their Navigating the New Normal podcast, which now includes over 450 hours of interviews with real Americans struggling with COVID-19 and the world today.
What brand has made Rob smile recently? Noting that we’ll be seeing more from gratitude as a macro trend, Rob pointed to his recent purchase of a Peloton bike and their corresponding empathic marketing and messaging.
As We Wrap …
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