Empathetic Marketing Examples
I do have one company that immediately jumps to mind. And two things stood out about this company. Before I tell you what they are, I want to tell you what I thought was extraordinary about them. First of all, their CEO had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. And the second thing that stood out is their company actually received an endorsement from Mother Teresa before she had passed away.
Now I’ll tell you what this company does. They are a collection agency called CFS2. One of the employees approached the CEO and said, What if we actually sat down to understand why our customers are not paying their debt? The employee wanted to test whether if the company understood why people weren’t paying, and actually helped them address those problems, the company would collect more money.
The CEO agreed to this test, and a team began investigating. They started talking to customers, they gathered and looked at all the reasons why people weren’t paying bills: job loss, child care falling through, they had family members that were going through major health issues, they had car problems.
CFS2 started putting together a bank of free services. They began helping people write resumes. They began helping people with interview training. They began helping people search for jobs. They actually started working with local agencies in states to find child care locations.
And they shifted. Instead of having a team of collection agents, they put them as customer service people. Instead of incentivizing these people based on how much debt they collected, they actually incentivized them to give away free services.
The results: they collect over 200 percent more than anyone else in the industry. They are one of the most profitable collection agencies. The other incredible thing is they’re winning these awards against huge brands for customer service. They have customers who are wondering, why should I trust you, you’re a collection agency? Why do you want to help me do financially better? They can very straightforwardly say, When you do better financially, we make more money. We want to help you do better.
At the core, it was practicing empathy. It was putting themselves in their customers’ shoes. And this wasn’t just a marketing practice. It actually became how they operated. This is a business-to-consumer example, but I’m seeing some companies begin practicing this for B2B . But I haven’t seen anyone do it to this level. So how was that for a story?
It’s pretty amazing. I think I’m still back at where you talked about the guy being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and an endorsement from Mother Theresa. And then you threw in the piece about it being a collection agency. I feel like you could win a lot of bar bets with that kind of combination.
You wouldn’t guess.
But what’s interesting there, Brian, is that was an incredible job of everybody’s goals being aligned. What’s good for the company is also good for the consumer, and vice versa. It just seems like they’ve created a win/win scenario for everybody involved in the process.
It is. And it shifted the game. The CEO would say it wasn’t his idea, but the best decision he ever made was to allow this test to happen.
I just want to inspire those who are listening that you don’t have to look at changing everything. You can begin testing your way into this.
That’s incredible. I love that story. I think this whole topic is transformative. In a way, just a simple shift in the way you think about your customer and their experience, I think, could generate a whole different set of results and a different trajectory for your business.
I think you demonstrated this a couple times; it doesn’t take a lot. It’s not as if you need to sit down and get approval from the board of directors or a CEO. There’s little things you could do almost every day just to incorporate a little bit more empathy into what you do with your customers and prospects. I think that’s very powerful.
It is. And the subtle shift is just thinking of your marketing, it’s not something you do to people, it’s something you’re doing for people. You’re doing it for a reason: to help. And to really look at what you’re as helping others achieve what they want really is helping yourself. So it’s that subtle shift.
What’s next? Where can folks go and see you, listen to you, attend events that you might be speaking at? Where can they get more of this story?
I’m going to be speaking on this topic coming up at Dreamforce. I also am writing at B2B Lead Blog. As we’re doing the research, I’ve had a hard time finding companies practicing this. So I’m setting up a few active labs, living experiments, where we’re running tests, and I’ll share what we learn on the B2B Lead Blog. Eventually, this will all find itself in a book on empathetic marketing.
Brian, we really appreciate you coming on the podcast and talking with us about empathetic marketing.
Well thank you. I’m so glad to be with you today.