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Business Compassion: an Oxymoron?

AdvantageCS’s Dan Heffernan says that being compassionate is good for customers and staff alike and drives long term business success.

By Dan Heffernan

Business Compassion: an Oxymoron?

Merriam-Webster defines the word compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”.

I don’t believe “Business Compassion” is an oxymoron. Here’s why:

In a business-to-business context, relationships with clients can be misconstrued as relationships between two businesses. This is false. A corporate entity does not have the ability to “relate” to another corporate entity. Relationships between companies always exist at the human level, because only humans can relate to and with one another. Naturally then, the quality of a business-to-business relationship is defined by the relationships between the humans at those organisations. It follows then, that all of the ways of relating come into play that are typical of our human relationships: kindness, patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and all of their opposites, of course!

Recently, I was interviewing some candidates for a new position and had the opportunity to talk about the difference between business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing. One of the challenges of effective B2B marketing is getting at the emotions of the potential customer. How is it that we can get a prospect to “want” to buy our products or services? That “want” is usually influenced by numerous factors, but emotions play a very important role. Generally, people end up buying (or recommending) a product or service coming from a company with whom they experience positive emotions. Selling an intangible, like software, makes that emotional reaction all the more challenging – and important.

Back to compassion. Some of us are born with compassion. Others of us need to practice it in order for it to grow. People suffer. I am amazed by just how much some people suffer. Misery is not spread evenly over the population.

Relationships with colleagues and clients should be treated with care. We have no idea how someone may be suffering. People are fragile; it’s easy to crush someone who is already nearly broken. Even for those not in pain, people need to be shown respect, dignity and affirmation. Our company supports a charity that provides medical, dental and other services including a food pantry to those in need. One of the things we were told by the director during a recent tour of the facility is that they don’t like to see generic food brands on their shelves in the food pantry. The needy deserve the dignity of name brand goods!

Everyone deserves dignity as human beings, regardless of what we’ve done or not done. It’s who we are as humans that makes us worthy of respect.

Business compassion makes us better business people. Clients want vendors who care. Clients of a vendor who demonstrates business compassion will provide good references. They will also be repeat customers.

Business compassion makes us better business people. Clients want vendors who care.

About us

AdvantageCS is the developer of Advantage – subscription, marketing and membership management software for publishers, who use it to manage their digital subscriptions, entitlements, magazines, bundles, e-products, conferences and events, membership and donations, payments and customer service. A privately-held company, AdvantageCS has been serving the publishing industry since 1979.


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This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide (PPG) 2022, which is published and distributed by InPublishing. You can register to receive InPublishing magazine here and view the digital edition of the PPG here.