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Why & How Empathy Unlocks Great Customer Service

August 14, 2023

Why & How Empathy Unlocks Great Customer Service

In an increasingly digital and automated world, a brand’s ability to empathize with customers is what sets it apart from competitors. Think about it: when customers are frustrated, they want to speak to a human being who understands their problem and can relate to the strong emotions they may be feeling at the moment. If a brand doesn’t follow through on that need, customers will be left feeling ignored, neglected, and unappreciated by the business – all of which will discourage them from supporting the brand in the future. At the end of the day, all we have is strong relationships with our customers, and nurturing them with empathetic customer service skills is a surefire way to succeed in business.

What Is Empathetic Customer Service And Why Is It A Must?

Before we dive into our tips for practicing empathy in customer service, we have to first break out the dictionary to define what empathy is and how it differs from sympathy. Whereas sympathy involves sharing another’s feelings, empathy is the ability to understand or relate to someone’s problem or situation without actually experiencing it yourself. In short, empathy involves putting yourself in another person’s shoes to see a situation from their perspective (without creating an uneven power dynamic through a show of pity). When it is put into practice through a customer service lens, empathy is a must-have skill that has the power to fuel strong connections and make customers who may be experiencing difficulty feel heard and understood by a brand.

Our Best Tips For Practicing Empathy In Customer Service

To truly empathize with customers and establish your brand as a loyal, trusted partner amongst your audience, read a few of our top tips for practicing empathy in customer service below and learn how to implement them within your brand.

1. Focus On Listening

Customer service is a fast-paced role, but when agents don’t take the time to listen to customers, the results can be disastrous. After all, 70% of the customer's journey is based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Therefore, if a customer feels that the agent they’re communicating with doesn’t understand their experience or issue or isn’t taking the time to hear the full story, they’re less likely to work with that brand again out of frustration. To practice truly active listening, encourage your customer service agents to:

  • Avoid interrupting and, instead, take notes they can reference later
  • Ask questions to clarify the issue at hand
  • Repeat important information back to the customer to ensure they have all the details

2. Acknowledge The Customers’ Feelings

Sometimes, the most important part of a customer service interaction is simply acknowledging the customer’s feelings that they’re bringing to your team’s attention. Suppose a customer ordered a high-end espresso machine that stopped working after just a few uses: If the agent they’re speaking with doesn’t seem to care or understand why they’re so frustrated, it can add an element of tension to the conversation that puts everyone on edge and makes it difficult for the customer to trust the agent (and therefore, the brand as a whole). Acknowledging the customer’s feelings and experience with empathy-driven statements offers validation that makes your customer feel heard and understood. Try using these customer service empathy statements in your next interaction with an upset customer to yield better results and save the relationship:

  • “I understand how frustrating it is when a new product stops working properly”
  • “Uh oh – that sounds frustrating! I’m sorry this has happened. Let’s get this taken care of for you right away.”
  • “You’re right – I’m going to bring this issue to my team to prevent this from happening again.”
  • “I’m sorry this has happened to you. It must have been very frustrating.”

3. Shift Your Perspective

For those of us who work in a customer service setting every single day, it can be all too easy to fall into a pattern of assuming we know everything about what the customer is going through. Unfortunately, this approach can negatively affect interactions with customers and make them feel like they’re misunderstood or that their issue is being glossed over. By putting ourselves in their shoes and thinking about how we would feel in their situation, we can gain a deeper understanding of what the customer is actually experiencing and why their issue is impacting their life more than we might see at first glance. Let’s go back to the espresso machine example: for a customer who just welcomed a child into the world, a broken espresso machine means more than a call to customer service. It means they have to either spend more money having coffee delivered to their home or load a newborn into the car just to get the cozy beverage they need to start their day off right. When you think about the deeper implications of an issue and shift your perspective, empathizing with customers becomes more instinctual and natural.

4. Use Positive Language To Create A Connection

When interacting with customers, it’s not uncommon for them to use negative language to express their frustration or disappointment with an issue. Instead of matching that energy, use positive language to turn it around and keep yourself in control of the situation. Let’s try a couple of examples, shall we?Instead of saying:

  • “I don’t know.”
  • “We can’t fix this.”
  • “That’s not how it works…”
  • “Please calm down.”

…try one of these:

  • “Thanks for letting me know!”
  • “Let’s see if we can resolve this situation for you.”
  • “I appreciate your patience.”
  • “I totally understand your frustration.”

Putting a positive spin on your language can point the conversation in the right direction and improve customer satisfaction (which will lead to a deeper level of trust and understanding between customers and your brand).

Scale Your Team With TalentPop & Start Practicing Empathy In Customer Service

Empathy goes a long way in building relationships. At TalentPop, our agents are trained in more than just the latest E-Commerce tech & software – a huge part of our hiring process is ensuring that each agent has the skills to empathize with customers and effectively communicate with them across all channels. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we make it super easy for you to scale your support up or down and offer a totally seamless and transparent pricing model, right? The solution is simple – let’s make Q3 your best quarter yet in 2023 by partnering to bring your customer service to the next level. Schedule a call with us today to get started.

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