“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”Damon Richards
I recently watched the movie “The Intern” starring Anne Hathaway as Jules Ostin, the CEO of an e-commerce company. Early on in the movie, we see Jules answer a customer call from a bride-to-be, who was complaining about receiving the bridesmaids dresses in the wrong color with the wedding just 3 days off. Jules takes complete responsibility, assures to fix the problem immediately, and even shares her personal number with the customer.
This is the genuine care and concern that all service representatives should show their customers.
A research by Penn State University indicates that customers prefer service agents who demonstrate empathy, over those who do not.
What Is Empathy?
The Cambridge dictionary defines Empathy as “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation”
When a service representative empathises with a customer, they see the customer’s concern as their own and that would reflect in how they respond. “I feel you and I am here for you” translates to a feeling of relatability, taking responsibility for mistakes, prompt remedial action to solve the problem leaving the customer with positive customer experience.
How To Build Empathy?
Through Active Listening
Active listening is vital to effective communication. Customers want to feel truly heard and understood.
- Avoid being distracted by the things going on in your surroundings.
- Pay attention to what the customer is saying.
- Refrain from coming up with rebuttals.
- Allow the customer to finish and avoid interrupting.
- Reflect on what was said and ask appropriate questions.
Understand Your Customers
Actively seek opportunities to get customer feedback. Creating positive customer experiences lies in anticipating your customer’s needs even before they are truly needed.
Surveys are a great way to know more about your customers.
Review CSAT scores periodically, help support reps understand where they stand.
Forums offer a good opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your customers. For deeper customer understanding advanced reporting tools like HappyFox BI give you valuable customer insight.
Act With a Sense of Urgency
While an immediate response may not be possible in every situation. Keep customers informed that you have understood their concern and are working towards finding the right solution for them. Set reasonable expectations when you are waiting on other teams to respond, to give a resolution to the customer. Proactively inform the customer of progress made.
Mind Your Language
Care should be taken to use language that builds customer rapport and trust.
- Avoid the use of negative and hesitant language, like “I can’t” or “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”. Such statements will annoy customers and lose their trust in the brand.
- Use positive and reassuring words like “I understand” or “Let me find out that for you” or “I can handle it”.
- Clarify your understanding of the situation through statements like “Let me know if my understanding is right” or “Correct me if I am wrong”.
- Create a sense of immediacy with your response. Use statements like “thanks for bringing this to our attention, so it can be addressed immediately” or “I can get this sorted out before the close of business today”.
- Convey that you are sorry and that you take responsibility through statements like “I’m so sorry to hear that” or “I understand how frustrating it is when”.
- Use language consistent with your brand.
Adapt To Your Customer
Modify your response based on the individual customer’s emotional needs. Look for the underlying sentiment of the conversation.
- Avoid using jargon and too many technical terms if you see your customer is having trouble understanding.
- Use formal language for older audiences and more informal language with the use of emoticons for a younger demographic.
- Adopt a more understanding tone when your customer is clearly irate and frustrated. Be apologetic when required.
Do you walk in your customer’s shoes?
A research by American Express in the US indicates that 33% say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.