Customer service is purely about delivering extraordinary customer experience. And it includes both, the technical aspect as well as the “intangible” element of the method of interacting with the customer.
Although the technical side can be perfectly handled with the help of the best call center software, when it comes to the interactions, the language chosen by the agent has a huge impact on how customer takes the service. Thus, selecting the proper approach for dealing with a customer is also very essential.
A lot of times agents have to deal with emotional customers. In such cases, it is not enough to just provide them with the solution but it is also equally important to support them emotionally. The best way to do that is by showing empathy towards them and the situation.
So, in this article, we will try to understand what empathy is and how it plays a vital role in delivering exceptional customer experience.
What is empathy?
Empathy is a human emotion which helps someone understand and share what the other person is experiencing. In other words, it is the ability to place yourself in others position to better understand the situation.
Consider the following example and the approach followed by two different agents.
A customer is calling in regards to correct usage of a feature that the call center software offers. The call gets connected to an agent who after listening to the problem redirects the call to another agent mentioning it is out of his scope. Due to this, the caller has to repeat the question again to another agent which adds to his frustration.
Instead of above approach, the following method is more suitable where agents show concern and empathy towards the customer.
To handle such situation, an agent should take the responsibility and resolve the issue rather than keeping the customer waiting in the queue. The agent should contact the proper team and get a response from them on behalf of the customer for faster resolution and enhanced customer experience.
Importance of Empathy in customer service:
Empathy is critical when you want the customer to feel valued and respected. One of the biggest concerns most of the customers have is that agents do not show sufficient concern for their problems.
On the contrary, when agents demonstrate empathy and understand the inconvenience that the problem is causing the level of customer satisfaction automatically rises.
Now the question is how to use empathy in your customer service?
There are various ways which can help agents deal with emotional customers more effectively:
1. Listen carefully: Paying attention to what the customer is saying is probably the best way to show empathy. Properly listening will not only help the agent to understand the problem but will also help in choosing the correct approach while interacting with the customer.
2. Offer sincere help: Using of phrases like “Let me see what I can do to fix this issue” or “We will try our best to solve the problem” ensures customer that you will do your best to rectify the issue as quickly as possible. This helps in gaining customer confidence and builds a relationship between agent and customer.
3. Be polite: An agent should always keep their tone low and polite even when the customer is shouting as it shows that you respect your business and the customer. Instead of reacting to customers rude behaviour an agent should try to impress and take control over the situation with their professionalism and knowledge.
4. Apologize whenever needed: It is a well-known saying in the field of customer service that “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Failures are part of business and customer service industry is no different. But if handled properly, failures provide a great opportunity to learn and expand business and strengthen the relationship with customers.
5. Take responsibility: Success of call center software solutions mainly depends on the service experience their customers have. To be able to deliver exceptional service standards it is required for agents to take ownership of the call.
Taking responsibility and providing the customer with a quick fix is a great way of showing empathy and that you really care for your customers. In customer service taking responsibility or ownership is defined as STOCK which means:
S: Sincerity – This means looking at a problem from the customer point of view by putting yourself in their position.
T: Touchpoints – Seeing the opportunity to have a conversation with the customer as a way to build a relationship.
O: Organization – Organizing the agents and the process followed in a more effective way to acquire better results.
C: Care – Loving what you do by showing passion towards your job and people around you.
K: Knowledge – Having a passion for learning and work towards improvement.
By adapting to all these characteristics an agent can take ownership of every call and contribute towards the betterment of the contact center performance.
6. Be honest: Being honest with your customers is the main requirement to gain their trust and loyalty. It is completely inappropriate to make false promises to the customer to gain their trust and show empathy.
If the agents or company are making false promises about the services that the call center management software offers to make customers happy then it is sure that the customer will not continue business with them for a long duration of time.
Instead, management should make sure that they keep up to the promises they made to the customers to have a positive and fulfilling relationship.
Apart from the above points, there are certain phrases that a call center should implement in their call scripts as these tips will definitely help the agents in handling calls with empathy.
For assessing the situation: The below suggested phrases can be used by agents when they are trying to evaluate the situation.
1. Is there anything that I can do to help you?
2. Can you please tell me a little more about the issue?
To confirm your understanding about the issue: It is very important that an agent clarifies the situation with the customer before suggesting any solution. For that purpose following phrases can be helpful.
1. Could you please confirm if my understanding of the issue is as per your requirement? If not, please feel free to correct me.
2. It would be really helpful if you can confirm that I have proper interpretation of the problem?
For reassuring the customers: To gain customer’s confidence it is essential that the agent comfort the customer by reassuring that the company is working on resolving the issue. In such situations the agents can make use of following phrases:
1. I would like to apologize that you’ve had a bad experience. Let me try my best to fix the issue.
2. Thank you very much for informing about the bad service. We will definitely help you to get the issue resolved.
Show sense of urgency: While reassuring the customer is important to business, it is also equally important to show a sense of immediacy. This will help in reducing customer frustration and give them a feeling that their thoughts are being valued. For this purpose following phrases are helpful.
1. I appreciate your efforts for bringing this issue in our attention, let me inform this to the concerned team so that we can deal with this immediately.
2. I am currently working on this issue and I will get back to you with my findings in an hour. Hoping for your co-operation.
For closing the call: It is crucial that agents maintain a respectful tone and attitude towards the customer for great customer experience. The way, an agent ends a call says a lot about a company and their agents, for proper closure of a call, an agent should use the below phrases.
1. Is there anything else that you would want me to look for you?
2. I am glad that we were able to resolve the issue today. Please feel free to contact me directly in case you have any more concerns about the service.
Ask for feedback: This is the most important step when trying to deliver exceptional customer service. When an agent asks for customer views and feedback about the service it shows that the company cares about their relationship with their customers. The below phrases are useful in such situation.
1. We really appreciate our customers who take some time out of their valuable schedule to give us their feedback and help us improve.
2. I completely understand what you are saying. I will share this information with our management so we can improve on this service.
Now that we know how important role empathy plays in customer service, let us see a real-life situation faced by one of the companies and how they overcame the problem with the help of empathy.
The case we will analyze today is of a mobile wallet payment app. The company was setup in 2009 with their headquarters in India. Recently the company came up with a new promotional scheme where every user will get 80% cashback when doing payment through their mobile app.
However, most of the customers did not receive the cashback as promised due to some system problem in their call center management solutions. Along with that when the customers tried contacting the agents via phones or email following actions by the agents added to customer frustration:
1. They were put on hold for a long duration of time without even informing.
2. Since the agents were unaware of the cause of the problem they continuously redirected the customers to other teams to find a solution to the issue.
3. Due to multiple call transfers, the customers had to repeat their issue to every agent which aggravated the customers even more.
As a result, the company lost a number of customers and also established a bad reputation for themselves.
To take control of the situation the management quickly implemented following rules in the process:
1. They took the social media and the internet as a way to make a public announcement about the problem they are facing with their system.
2. They sent an email to every customer and apologized for the situation.
3. The management deployed a team of best developers to fix the system error to rectify the problem as quickly as possible.
4. From the customer service point of view, the managers requested the agents to show empathy on the call while interacting with customers.
5. They made changes in their call script as per the situation and added phrases like “we will be glad to help you in getting this issue resolved”.
6. All the agents were guided, to be honest with customers about the situation and keep them updated about the progress on the issue.
7. They also modified their virtual call center software to have a separate queue only for this issue which minimized the overall wait time and number of call transfers.
With the help of above steps, the management was able to do the damage control quickly and effectively. Since the customers saw the company taking responsibility for their mistakes most of the clients agreed to wait for a fix of the problem.
Also with agents being more concerned and sympathetic towards the situation, most of the customers reported that they had a good overall experience while interacting with the agents. All these efforts eventually helped the company gain their reputation back in the business. And they got an opportunity to learn and grow with experience.
From the above article, we can see that how showing empathy can help you gain more business and loyalty of customers. Also, there is no doubt that empathy is an inseparable part of customer service as it helps in building a strong relationship with your customer which is the basis of running a successful business.