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Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes isn’t always easy, especially if they are frustrated. But there is a great way to relate to your customers, a way that can improve the customer experience and ensure repeat business.  

Through empathetic customer service.  

Empathy is an important way for call center agents to show customers that they understand their dissatisfaction, and is a key way to provide an excellent customer experience. This is vital for call center success, because:  

  • 32% of customers will stop working with a beloved brand after one bad experience. 
  • 67% of customers feel their standards for service are higher than ever.  
  • 96% of customers feel the level of customer service determines their brand loyalty. 
     

This blog explores the importance of empathy in customer service and provides empathetic statements that call center agents can use in their customer service processes.  

What is empathy in customer service?  

Empathy is the ability to relate, understand, or sympathize with another living being. Empathy is the gateway to compassion and is crucial for all types of relationships, including with customers. It also requires that you put yourself in someone else’s position without judgment. This is an essential aspect of customer service. When you can empathize with your customers, you are more open to listening to their concerns and finding solutions. 

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The Importance of Empathy in Customer Service 

Providing empathy in customer service is not only a great way to make customers feel heard and understood, but it can also turn an angry customer into a loyal one. 95% of purchasing decisions are made emotionally. Because of this, call center agents must position themselves as knowledgeable and relatable experts that can solve problems with an empathetic ear. Here are a few more reasons why empathy in customer service is so important:  

  • Empathetic customer service is all about understanding how the customer feels. 
  • Empathy is tuning into what the customer is and isn’t saying.  
  • Companies that show empathy to customers will receive empathy from customers. 
  • Empathy makes conflicts easier to deal with. 
  • Empathy helps customers to feel that their concerns matter.  
  • Empathy improves the customer journey and creates stronger relationships.  

But before we can explore more about empathetic customer service, we first need to understand customer frustration.  

Signs of customer frustration 

Customer frustration is when a customer expresses discontent after a negative interaction with an agent or company. A customer can feel frustrated in some situations, including:  

  • Low-quality products 
  • Poor customer service 
  • Miscommunication or misinformation  
  • Negative retail experiences 

Staying positive, calm, and going the extra mile are crucial ways to retain customers and ensure their repeat business. Below are a few examples phrases call center agents can use to talk down an angry customer:  

  1. “I understand your frustration.” 
  2. “You are right. Let’s find a solution.”  
  3. “Here’s what we are going to do for you…” 
  4. “I am so sorry this has happened. Let’s get it resolved right away.” 
  5. “This would frustrate me, too.”  
  6. “Your frustration and anger are completely understandable.”  

It is important for call center agents to remember that customer frustration is not personal. Regardless, no matter how long you have been an agent, it can be difficult to deal with angry customers. But understanding the value of empathy can help agents find solutions that will work for the contact center and customers alike. Working through a negative customer experience can be a highly effective training tool.  

How to build empathy in customer service 

Empathy is a necessary soft skill that must be prioritized in agent training and coaching processes. Empathetic agents can build customer relationships, improve the customer experience, and lay the foundation for customer referrals.  

Here are a few ways contact center agents can demonstrate empathy in their customer interactions:    

  • Know their biases. 
  • Maintain positivity. 
  • Stay calm and cool. 
  • Addressing customers by their first names. 
  • Understand their customer demographics and base.  
  • Use feedback tools, like quality assurance scorecards, to understand how they are communicating with customers and other team members.   

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How To Be Empathetic in Three Easy Steps:  

Now that you understand what empathetic customer service is and its value, we can explore how to practice empathy in your everyday work.  

Step 1. Embrace active listening. 

Active listening is an important way to make your customers feel heard and understood. This helps build trust and creates more open dialogue, even when customers are upset. Here are a few tips for incorporating active listening into your customer interactions:  

  • Try not to interrupt the customer.  
  • Listen to customers carefully and allow a few seconds of silence to pass before you respond.  
  • Wait until the customer has finished their thought before offering your own.  
  • Try not to be defensive. 
  • Repeat what the customer has said and repeat how you will find a solution. This shows that you have listened to their concerns.  

Step 2. Choose empathy over sympathy.  

The key difference between empathy and sympathy is perspective. Sympathy is derived from your feeling or understanding, while empathy is derived from putting yourself in another person’s shoes or situation. Instead of saying “That must be upsetting,” try saying “I would be upset, too.” This makes call center agents sound more relatable and genuine to customers rather than patronizing. 

Step 3. Use empathy statements regularly.  

As we’ve discussed, empathetic statements can go a long way toward making customers feel more comfortable and heard in voicing their frustrations. This is also helpful for improving call center agent morale and job satisfaction. Examples of empathetic statements include:  

  • Thank you for letting us know.  
  • I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this. 
  • I appreciate your patience.  
  • I understand your frustration.  
  • Your business means so much to us.  
  • I would feel frustrated, too.  

How does software help customer service teams practice empathy? 

Some tools can support customer service teams by practicing empathy. These include CRM software, which holds all information on a customer in one place. This prevents the customer from having to repeat the problem to different agents. Other digital tools that support empathy include:  

  • Sentiment analysis can detect tone in text and help customer service agents understand how to deal with a problem.  
  • AI text analytics uses keywords to understand customer reactions far more quickly than manual text analysis.  
  • Scorecards and other self-evaluation tools give agents deep insight into their performance and supply options for skill training or refinement.  

When combined with well-trained, empathetic agents, these software features can help your contact center quickly realize your goal: to diffuse uncomfortable situations and delight customers 

The Bottom Line 

Adding empathetic statements to your contact center's customer service standards is crucial for your continued success. Empathetic statements help solidify customer trust and build a foundation for your contact center’s long-term customer relationships. But empathetic phrases are not the only way to ensure return customers. A quality assurance software platform can elevate your service even further. Request a demo to learn how our software can improve your customer service standards today.  

 
 

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