Are You Ready for Compassionate Commerce?

What if I told you that there is one thing that could make you absolutely love what you do? And what if it could also help you do your best work?

Compassion Helps Us Do Our Best Work AND Love Our Careers

What if I told you that there is one thing that could make you absolutely love what you do? And what if I told you that the same thing could also help you do your best work? Good news, it exists, and it’s called compassion. Sure, we all know compassion from our personal relationships, but how many of us think about compassion in our professional settings?

Compassion vs Empathy

Literally speaking, the technical definition of compassion is “to suffer together.” Heavy, right? But compassion is really more than just suffering together. It’s about understanding the problem and having the motivation to work through it and move beyond it.

Empathy on the other hand, is when you put yourself in another person's place and try to understand what they're going through (how they're feeling, what they're experiencing, etc.). I like to think of empathy as 1.0 and compassion as 2.0 because we can't be compassionate if we don't first understand. While empathy gives us insight to the emotion that's attached to a person’s experience, compassion is action oriented and can blossom once we have a more informed understanding.

Wired for Compassion

The fascinating thing about compassion is that we're actually wired as human beings to benefit from being compassionate. Compassion releases oxytocin (also referred to as the bonding hormone) and makes us feel good. It slows our heart rate and studies show that the areas of the brain associated with caregiving and pleasure light up. 

Think about how this pertains to your own life. Whether you find yourself in a personal or professional setting, you can surely identify moments where you’ve felt the mental and physical benefits of being compassionate. It’s a renewable and rewarding cycle. Your compassion motivates you to unlock and understand what your customer really needs and before you know it, you find joy in what you’re doing just as much as your client loves the work you deliver.

Compassionate Commerce

At Uprise, we use the Compassionate Commerce framework to help us better understand our clients and help our clients better articulate what they offer to their customers. At the core of this framework, we seek to understand what our clients’ customers are going through, what they're experiencing, what they're feeling, and what it is they are getting from our clients. We do this by assessing core emotions.

Customers make decisions based on how they feel, which is why we view emotion as the fundamental insight of Compassionate Commerce. Let’s look at the stock market – a very analytical, seemingly rational topic. Recently, an analyst wrote that there’s a “fear bubble” causing people to invest in ways that are contrary to what the data recommend. While the data show that things look solid, people aren’t investing because they’re afraid. They’re making decisions that are emotionally-driven rather than data-driven. As marketers, we must understand what to do when emotion is the driving factor, and that's what Compassionate Commerce is all about. By understanding customers to the degree in which we know how they're feeling and why they’re feeling, we are able to support them where they are, wherever that may be.

How it Starts
We developed Compassionate Commerce as a new way to understand the customer journey. By focusing on how the customer feels through each stage of their experience, we are able to best serve them by meeting their emotional needs.

To begin, we assign emotions to each stage of the customer journey so we can assess how well our clients are aligning with their customers. While the goal is to identify the positive emotions that will help them appeal to customers, we also spend time understanding negative emotions. Why? At the end of the day, we can't put our heads in the sand and say, “we’re just going to focus on the positive”. That doesn’t work. We have to be compassionate. We have to say to customers, “I hear you, that's real, let’s acknowledge both your satisfaction and dissatisfaction.”

As we map emotions to each part of the journey, we can ask our clients questions like:

  • Where do you address these emotions with your customers?
  • Which areas in your messaging communicates these emotions to your customers?
  • Is your branding informed by these emotions? 
  • Where can your customer learn more information when they need it most? 
  • What are your customers searching for when they discover you?
  • How is your customer feeling when they discover you?

Compassionate Commerce leads to human-centric customer experience journeys. By truly understanding and acknowledging the customer, how they feel, and what they need, you will be able to support them in ways that were not previously available. Much more effective than a standalone content strategy or marketing plan, Compassionate Commerce delivers a holistic approach that supports marketing, sales, content, and advertising efforts and meets the consumer where they are on a visceral level. This builds a meaningful relationship between brand and customers to drive action.

Looking to learn more? We recently published a Compassionate Commerce course to help you get started.


At Uprise, we help clients achieve their business milestones. Whether it’s launching a new company, developing a new product, reaching a new market, or exceeding the next revenue goal, Uprise is a partner in growth.

Malinda Gagnon

Malinda is CEO at Uprise and has more than 20 years of experience in business strategy and technology at companies including Google and WPP, and has advised clients such as Procter & Gamble, General Electric, VW, BlackRock, and Walmart.

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