Empathy is the ability to understand another person's feelings and perspectives. Customers want to feel as though their concerns are being heard and taken seriously.
In customer service interactions, demonstrating your empathy skills shows customers that you understand their "feelings, situation, and motives", leading to "trust and brand loyalty."
1. Listen with intent to understand
Active listening involves a careful focus on what the customer is saying, allowing you to gauge a customer's immediate problem as well as "any secondary problems they may not be directly conveying."
When you actively listen, focus only on the customer's speech, and be sure to repeat their concern back to them to ensure that you fully understand the issue at hand.
It is important to remain calm and allow customers to vent their frustrations without interrupting them.
The goal is to connect with customers by paying close attention to their needs and trying to come up with the best possible solution for their situation.
2. Validate the customers' feelings
Customers should feel that their concerns are valid and important. Make sure that the customer knows that you care about their problem as if it were your own.
Use phrases that express empathy, such as:
"I hear you."
"I apologize that you had to deal with this."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"That sounds extremely frustrating/challenging/difficult."
A customer is complaining about being put on hold for 20 minutes. How can you demonstrate empathy and respond to her?
3. Personalize the interaction
To demonstrate empathy, it helps to humanize the customer interaction by referring to the customer by their name when appropriate.
There are other ways to personalize the interaction:
Use appropriate terminology based on the customer's knowledge level.
Adjust your responses according to their emotional needs — offer sympathy or reassurance when the opportunity arises.
Offer customized solutions based on their particular situation.
Build rapport by mirroring their tone of voice or speaking pace when appropriate.
4. Remind customers that you're on their side
Customers have to believe that you want to solve their problems. Remind them that you're playing on their team and truly do want them to be satisfied with the outcome of the interaction.
You can say things like:
"We can work through this together."
"I want you to be successful in this."
"I've had something like this happen to me. I understand how frustrating it can be."
"I will get to work on this right away."
If you do have to say no to a customer, do it gracefully and try to offer alternative solutions that will address their concerns.
5. Offer solutions and follow up
Make sure to take action to address the customer's issues to the best of your ability. Provide the customer with practical options for them to consider if their ideal option is not feasible.
Let them know that you're committed to solving this problem and are available to assist further if needed.
If possible, follow up with the customer at a later date to ensure their satisfaction. Showing them that their continued satisfaction is of the utmost importance is a great way to demonstrate empathy.
Meet Chris, our upset customer
Chris is a valuable, longtime client of the software company you work for. Recently, he's been having issues with a product he purchased for his office.
He calls the customer service number, and you're the representative assigned to his case. The problem is, he won't stop yelling at you and you have yet to even greet him. How do you handle the situation with your empathy skills?
Choose the best response:
Practice your empathy skills to show customers you care!