There is an abundance of opinions, advice, theories, and even technologies designed around bolstering customer service. These tools are simply trying to materialize and quantify a trait that holds infinite value in customer service: empathy. Continue reading to learn more about how empathy should be a key and central focus in your customer service strategy.
What is Empathy?
While a smile can go a long way, empathy makes leaps and bounds in delivering superior customer service. Regardless of the tools, people, processes, or procedures you put in place, empathy is unparalleled. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand another person's feelings. Empathy can be essentially characterized by the following questions:
- What are the feelings of the individual I am trying to help?
- How would I feel if I traded places with the person?
- Regardless of the rules, is there anything I can or should to do help the customer?
- What would my expectations be if the roles were reversed?
- At the end of the day, what action would make this customer happy or satisfied?
- Is there any reason I can't perform this action?
- Can I find someone who can perform the action?
Empathy Doesn't Mean Emotional
When dealing with customers, it can be difficult not to get lost in emotions. Contrary to popular belief, empathy absorbs emotions and helps customers get to a place of negotiation instead of complaints. When you address problems with an empathetic point of view, you increase the likelihood you will retain customers and create a vital win-win situation. Empathy shouldn't be confused with sympathy, which is identifying with or even taking on another person's emotions.
- An empathetic response would be, "I can completely understand why that makes you angry."
- A sympathetic response would be, "I am angry with the way they notified you of cancellation as well."
Where Did Empathy Go?
In most cases, when companies begin to get really clever and complex, empathy is out the window. In other words, the dehumanization of a significantly human interaction most often happens with metrics, such as:
While indicators can be helpful in guiding an organizations measurable results, don't let the numbers blind you to how well your staff is interacting with your customers and prospects. Metrics like ASA do have a place in determining the quality of a call service, and A Better Answer has good results in those types of measures. Superior customer service that's centered around understanding or empathy, however, may make more of a difference to your customer.
Benefits of Empathy
Undoubtedly, empathetic customer service greatly enriches the bond between you and your customers. For example, when you remember a customers name or are interested in them as a person, they are much more likely to continue to do business with your organization. Treating your customers with empathy or even like a friend will convey their value and importance to you. More so, when empathetic customer service is delivered, the customer develops a better and more welcoming image of the entire corporate brand. Simply put, excellent customer service centered around empathy will ensure your customers will continue to come back and tell their friends and family members.