Does your customer service pass the empathy test?

Recent events have made it painfully obvious that not all customer service reps understand the importance of empathy.

Real World Story: I was going through a rough time in the last several months. My personal life was in a shambles. My husband wanted a divorce, and I needed to move out of our home in a matter of days. Just like that my life was in massive change, and I was an emotional wreck. It was at this time in my life that the positive impact of empathy became obviously apparent.

I went to my local U-Haul store to buy moving boxes. After walking around a few minutes, an employee approached meU-Haul and asked if she could help. I briefly told her about my predicament, and she was immediately attentive and compassionate. She guided me through a selection of boxes and picked the ones best suited for my “stuff” and me, ensuring I found sizes I could carry and that wouldn’t break my back. She even loaded them into my car for me all while telling me everything would turn out for the better. She made me feel like I was one of the family.

Conversely, when I called my cell phone carrier to change over my service plan, I explained my situation, but the rep on the phone completely skipped acknowledging my predicament. He simply started talking about where I wanted my bills to be mailed. I felt like I was being processed through an assembly line, so I didn’t feel good about the experience at all.

One common customer predicament resulted in two completely different service experiences.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Pause and acknowledge: When a customer explains her situation and is obviously distressed, pause a moment and acknowledge her situation. This meaningful gesture lets the customer know you care about her.
  2. Be present. Focus on each customer, at each moment in the interaction. Put away your cell phone, paperwork or other items that cause distractions. This shows the customer he is the most important person to you at that moment.
  3. Return to solving the customer’s issue: Once customers know you care, they will signal it’s okay to resume solving their problem by exhaling or nodding their head in agreement. At that point, you can now begin to talk about solutions.

Remember: Customers need you to care about them and their problem as much as they do. When you acknowledge their situation or predicament through empathy, you show them you care and that they chose the right place to do business. What a great way to create a loyal and returning customer, huh?

What do you do or say to show you care about your customers? Please share in the comments section below.

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