CUSTOMER CARE: The Power of Empathy

Lately, one of my mystery shoppers was given a complicated form to fill at one of the big service providing companies in town. This document was so difficult to comprehend even for a university professor and he almost gave up when suddenly; the service person came to his rescue.

Lately, one of my mystery shoppers was given a complicated form to fill at one of the big service providing companies in town. This document was so difficult to comprehend even for a university professor and he almost gave up when suddenly; the service person came to his rescue.

She asked with a big smile and helpful voice if she could help him out. She then took her time and explained each session of the document. After that, he was able to fill easily this document.

How he wished this was a true story but unfortunately, this just happened in his dream…the fact is that the lady at that counter was chatting with someone on the phone and discussing her personal matters with no focus on him as a customer.

When he tried to interrupt her, the look she gave him just sent him cold. After finishing her long conversation, she simply told him that the questionnaire was in English and French and that he should try harder to understand it by himself, or take it home and look for help.

Have you ever had such an experience when you think the service person doesn’t care about how you feel?

Or even as a service provider, you have probably shown a lack of empathy to some of your customers? When we talk about putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers, do we really understand what this entails?

Empathy is the ability of being in the customers shoes so as to understand them better. Whether for selling, for the retention of our customers, for handling complaints or even diffusing conflict, empathy helps and is needed in all service interactions.

Customer Empathy is the art of seeing transactions through the customer’s eyes. It’s being able to think ahead about the customer’s fears, anxiety, and trying to understand them.

This means that as service providers, we need to sense our customers’ feelings and perspective that will enable us to take an active interest in their concerns.

My friend Bea works in one of the banks in town and when she has customers whose salaries or transfers have not been positioned on their accounts, they will keep on calling her. 

She feels bad for them and imagines how she herself would feel if she had to wait for a transfer. Though she is not the person directly in charge of transfers, she will be behind her colleagues until she finds a solution for her customers.

That’s empathy because Bea makes interactions with her customers emotional.

As good customer service is all about dealing with customer’s’ hearts, empathy enables the service provider to connect and establish rapport and creating a sense of bonding between him and the customer.

What prevents many people from being empathetic is their inability to come out from their “boxes”, their “rules and regulations”. The truth is that in most customer service cases, we are able to find alternatives for our customers’ demands.

Empathizing with your customers can be seen verbally with sentences such as:

• “Yes, I can imagine this is not easy, please let me help you.”
• “I’m sure I will be upset too, if that happened to me.”
• “That is really frustrating.  I can understand how you feel.”
• “ I know or recognize how it feels to wait for that long”
•  “I understand your concern”
• “ I see why you feel that way”
• “I’ve been there so I know how you feel”

As service people, we have a privilege of creating long term relationships with all the people we interact with. So, listen carefully.

Look inside your customer’s hearts before you respond. Then, respond with kindness, thoughtfulness, and understanding. You’ll be rewarded with trust, friendship, and loyalty.

Remember this quote by Bonnie Jean Wasmund” People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

The author is a Customer Service consultant currently working in Rwanda. She can be reached at sandra.idossou@sheiconsulting.com.

 

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