Offering great customer service is no longer “optional”.

Today, we need to connect on many different levels in the customer experience, not just in product quality. We need to not only evaluate the interaction with our product or service but the way our clients are feeling. It is fast becoming the key differentiator between business success and failure.

What is Customer Empathy?

Customer empathy is the ability to see and understand things from the customer’s perspective. In customer service roles, empathy means that you are able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and truly understand their frustrations from their point of view. 

Whether a customer’s experience is good, bad, or somewhere in between, is neither right nor wrong. It is just their perspective. Showing empathy helps build trust and an emotional connection between that customer and your business. When you are displaying empathy to your clients;

✓  Clients feel like they are being heard

✓  Their problem is being taken seriously

✓  That the business is doing everything to solve their problem

Quite simply, empathy is the best way for you to show your customers that you really care. While you may not always be able to solve their problem, if you are coming from a place of empathy, the client will feel like they are important.

How do you build customer empathy?

Why Empathy Is the Secret to Great Customer Service

Here are a few ways to build customer empathy:

  • Make support easy to initiate
  • Provide fast resolutions
  • Actively listen to customer feedback
  • Focus on the human touch
  • Make it your problem
  • Provide empathy training to your team
  • Invest in the client experience

Make Support easy to initiate

Don’t make clients jump through hoops for them to raise a concern. Have a simple email or phone number the client can use to flag their issue. Chatbots are also becoming a preferred method for clients to reach out and have their problems solved.

Provide fast resolutions 

While this might seem inherently obvious, you would be surprised at how long some organisations drag out the resolution process. The faster you can arrive at a resolution for the client the better their memory of the experience will be. 

Actively listen to customer feedback 

When you are engaging with a client, it is important to really listen without interrupting or formulating a response. Listen carefully and smile if the client is in front of you. Allow them to say everything that they have on their mind. Don’t make assumptions, be open-minded so that you can gather all of the information you need without judgement.

Why Empathy Is the Secret to Great Customer Service

Focus on the human touch

Understand their priorities, and what will provide them with some initial comfort. Listen for the things a client is saying and look to dig a little deeper. For example, if a client mentions that they need to take some time off because they need to look after a child, show empathy by asking and wishing them well for their recovery.

Make it your problem

Nothing is more frustrating than when you raise a problem, to be shuffled from one representative to another. The first person that encounters the problem, should be the one to take ownership until the problem is resolved. Having this one-to-one relationship with the client really shows that you care. 

Provide empathy training to your team

Emotional intelligence is incredibly important in the workplace today. Not just in the interaction that your team has with your clients, but with each other. Incorporating training to help the team identify when clients are upset and working with them to remedy the situation will make it more natural when an issue arises.

Phrases That Convey Empathy to Customers

It can be challenging to help customers who are expressing their frustrations in an unhappy or even angry way. The key is to remain calm, breathe and begin with some empathy phrases to help diffuse the situation. 

 “I can understand how frustrating this must be”

“I realise how complicated it is to…”

“I imagine how upsetting it is to…”

“I know how confusing it must be when…”

“I’m so sorry to hear that…”

Why Empathy Is the Secret to Great Customer Service


Research shows us that
people don’t really judge their customer experience as a whole. There are usually two key moments in the client experience that define it as memorable.  The most intense moment and the final end experience. 

This is commonly referred to as The Peak-End Rule

The peak experience can be positive or negative, so make sure your team is on the lookout for not only high peaks, but the low points. While this is a major contributing factor to how a client will recall the experience, do not neglect the end. Many times a negative peak experience can be mitigated by a positive end experience. 

It can be the important difference between a loyal customer, or a competitor’s gain.

Conclusion

At our core level, as humans we all want to feel, be heard, understood, and significant. Sometimes what we do as a business when things are not going well, says more about our company when things are going well. Empathy is a great way to help bridge the gap between unhappy clients and those that would happily refer you.