Customer Empathy Goes a Long Way

I think at one point or another that everyone has experienced bad customer service, calling into your phone company, credit card company, or any type of company where a product or service was purchased and finding the person on the other end of the phone that you were expecting to help you, to be uncaring, unsympathetic to your particular woes, even rude.   Having years of experience on the customer service and sales side of the call center I find this to be troublesome to say the least.  The purpose of an in-bound call center agent is to help the person on the other end of the line, this is the customer and they are calling for assistance.  Granted many times the person on the other end is not happy, frustrated, irate, even rude; it is the job of the call center agent to get through that, to show empathy towards that person and try to cut through the frustration and to find out why they’re frustrated, why they’re mad, and not take what their saying personally.  They don’t know the person on the other end of the line, their frustration is not personal, it is not directed at the agent personally.  They are upset about a product or service they received or didn’t receive and it is the agent’s job to find out what the problem is, to address it to the best of their ability; whether that is finding a solution themselves or directing them to the person or department that can resolve their issue.

It’s important to remember, however the agent ends that call, that’s the impression that person is going to have of the organization; if the agent is stern, unsympathetic, uncaring, or rude, this is going to be the impression they now have of the organization.  From a managers point of view it is important to train agents to be sympathetic, to show empathy, to not be thin skinned, to be able to take a frustrated, irate person and calm them down, let them vent. Because at the end of the day regardless of how you may feel about that customer their money is what pays the agents paycheck, the managers paycheck, the board of directors paycheck, and has a very direct impact on the bottom line every quarter.   So it’s very important that we are training agents to show empathy, to understand the frustration that someone may feel, and to help them find a resolution.

In my experience by showing empathy, letting them vent, not taking it personal, letting them know you feel their frustration and that you are going to do everything in your power to help them, at the end even if the agent is unable to resolve their problem due to company policy, expired warranty, whatever the case may be, at least that person will walk away feeling good about the treatment that they received.  Again, it’s extremely important that we treat customers with respect and we don’t turn around and disrespect or be stern with them or show them the same frustration they are having, give them the empathy that they need and let them know that you care.

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About Joe Melle

Joe Melle has founded and ran several successful businesses, and has had an interesting career in direct contact media, call center operations, sales operations, customer service operations, customer retention, and quality assurance; he has written over 140 business articles, previously served as a part time adjunct professor for a university teaching business, marketing, and management courses to both graduate and post graduate students.Email Me