Elements of The Entrepreneurial Mindset Series – Element #3: Empathy and Fulfilling Customers

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 15b
August 15, 2022

By Dan Coughlin


Uncover Your Customer Needs

Your business is not at all about you.

That’s a bit of shocker to all of us who are entrepreneurs. We sometimes tend to think it’s about our purpose, passions, talents, desires, dreams, and efforts all coming together in one beautiful expression of our core selves. But it’s not.

A business, every business, is about understanding other people and providing them with something that enriches their lives and fulfills something that THEY need or want.

This paradigm is crucially important, and at the heart of it is empathy. Empathy is the most important word in business. Empathy means working to understand what another person is thinking and feeling, and then responding in an effective way.

There is a lot packed into that definition.

Work to Understand What Another Person is Thinking and Feeling

Notice this doesn’t say work to understand yourself. That is very important to do so that you understand what you have to offer to other people. However, a successful business is not built on what you have to offer to other people. It’s built on understanding and meeting the needs and wants of other people.

I encourage you to invest time and energy in really working to understand the people you want to serve. Meet with them in person. Ask them what challenges they deal with, and what would make their life and their work easier, faster, and more effective. Observe them in action whenever you get the chance. Read about them. Ask them what they are thinking and what they are feeling as though deal with certain situations.

The more you understand them, really understand them, the more likely you will be to meet their needs and wants in a meaningful way.

Responding in an Effective Way

The emphasis here is on fulfilling your customers, not fulfilling yourself.

Customers don’t care about your quarterly sales and profits. They don’t care about your awards or new house or ranking in your industry. They care that you fulfill their needs and wants in a really timely and effective way.

Has the customers needs and wants been met and exceeded?

That’s the driving question.

Do they think and feel that they are better off as a result of buying from you?

Last night, Barb and I went to a local restaurant in St. Louis called, Twisted Tree, that averages 300 reservations a night Monday through Thursday, and 500 reservations Friday and Saturday. At this same location the previous three restaurants lasted a few years each and then were gone. What is the difference?

The quality of the food is superb. The waiters are always friendly. The support staff is always full. They have four managers on duty at all times. There literally is no customer need or want that they are not prepared to meet in a timely way.

They understand what customers are thinking and feeling. And they meet the needs and wants of their customers supremely well day after day.

It’s a great case study for every business to learn from.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

Back to Newsletter Page