Customer Service Empathy

By Becky Dent Robinson, Platform28 on November 7, 2013

The below article is the first in the series, “Good Customer Services Practices Applied in the Contact Center.” Contact me at moc.82mroftalpnull@renraw.xela with any future article suggestions. Enjoy!

Let’s face it: angry customers are as certain as death and taxes. If you are an agent fielding calls on a customer service hotline, oftentimes you will find yourself on the receiving end of an interaction with a very unhappy customer – the cause of which you had nothing to do with. This emotional customer may be irate over dealings with another person or reacting to an unsatisfactory product. Nonetheless, you are left to handle it to the best of your abilities.

Remember at that moment, you are the brand ambassador, the face of the company. Your actions can have a direct effect on your company’s revenue and its reputation in the industry. No pressure! This is why we are practicing Customer Service Empathy. The greatest weapon for dealing with this type of situation is empathy. Empathy is defined as, “the ability to identify a customer’s emotional need or state, understand the reasons behind this state, and respond to it effectively and appropriately” (Source: eHow).

Let’s take a look at how empathy can be applied in today’s contact centers.

Steps of Empathy

Step 1: Acknowledge. Regardless of who is at fault in the situation, it is best to simply acknowledge the reason for the customer’s frustration. Be certain you have fully understood the root of the problem.

Step2: Apologize. This is your greatest opportunity to relay the healing words of empathy. “I understand why this would frustrate you.” “We value your business and want to keep you as a customer.”

Step 3: Transfer the focus. Once you have defined the issue and both parties are in agreement on what it is, try to refocus the conversation around what the customer needs to happen in order for them to do an about-turn and be happy.

Step 4: Find a resolution. Partner with the customer to reach an agreed-upon resolution. This is your opportunity to shine and turn this unpleasant experience into a win for your company. More importantly, execute. Don’t make this customer have to call back to check on the status of the resolution.

Step 5: End on a positive note. You can actually thank the customer for bringing your attention to the matter, so that your organization can take more positive steps in the future to avoid this type of issue. You can also use this as a learning experience and evaluate the changes necessary to ensure this problem does not result in angry customers in the future.

Building Relationships and Loyalty

Studies have repeatedly shown that customers whose problem has been resolved by a company are more loyal to that company than customers who have never experienced a problem with that company.

By incorporating empathy into your daily contact center interactions, you can build relationships and loyalty, while transforming your contact center into a productive and profitable part of your business.

About the Author: Alexandra Warner is the VP of Marketing at Platform28, a robust Communications-as-a-Service provider for the enterprise. Since 2001, Platform28 has been helping government agencies, enterprise and US Tier 1 carriers streamline their communications, drive business efficiency, and deliver an excellent customer experience.
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