Somehow, just knowing someone cares makes us feel better when we have problems. Using empathy in customer service, in addition to be the right thing to do, can make situations easier to resolve.
If you train your team to engage in the following behaviors—and do so sincerely—you’ll find your customers will come away from interactions feeling a lot better, regardless of the outcome.
Answer the Phone with a Smile
Taking a moment between each call to reorient themselves and put a big smile on their faces before answering the next one is a very useful tactic. People can actually “hear” a smile when you speak.
Smiles can be infectious, just like yawns. When the person answering the phone has a certain energy level, the caller will unconsciously mirror it. This makes the call start off on a pleasant note. From there, the customer service representative (CSR) has only to keep the vibe rolling.
Shut Up and Listen
There are times when people just want to get things off their chests. A call will come in and the customer is obviously frustrated. They begin talking about the issue, only to be constantly interrupted by your CSR who is anxious to implement a solution.
Feeling shut down more than assisted, the customer gets increasingly angry. As a result, even when the solution is put forth and executed, they will go away form the call with residual contempt. Don’t be surprised when they then flame you in social media.
After asking the customer’s name and listening to them explain their concern, your CSRs should relate the problem back to the caller to demonstrate they were listening.
If the customer is right and the company is wrong, they should admit to it right away and correct the malfeasance. If the company is right and the customer is wrong, they must avoid accepting blame—while expressing understanding of the customer’s plight. They should also never apologize for pricing or policies. Those elements are put in place to protect the business.
Let’s say you sell ebooks online and the customer’s reader is incompatible with a title they’re trying to download. If you provided adequate information about this in the listing, that’s not your fault. Still, your CSR can express understanding without biting the hand from which they are fed.
“I understand exactly what you’re saying, and I can see how it would look that way. I’d be upset too if something like that happened to me and I didn’t understand what it was all about. In this case the book isn’t compatible, but I’m sure we can find a solution you’ll like.”
Convey a Sincere Desire to Help
Customer service can’t always provide the perfect answer, but it can always deliver an empathetic ear. “Let me see what I can do to get you a better outcome,” is one of the most endearing things a customer service rep can say to a caller, particularly when the statement includes the caller’s name.
Always Remain Polite
This can be tough when the person on the other end is hurling epithets like a major league baseball pitcher. But the CSR must stay behind the plate and catch. Their tone should always be pleasant and their choice of language should always be polite—though not overly formal.
Ask the Key Question
After hearing the complaint and confirming an understanding of it, the CSR should ask, “What can we do to make this right for you?” With any luck, the caller will want something easy to provide. And, even if they ask for something completely out of the realm of possibility, at least your CSR has a frame of reference within which there will be an answer.
Using empathy in customer service is a great tool to use to find it.