It used to be that businesses offered the best product and pricing to lure potential customers. All that has changed over the years. Nowadays, the company with the best customer service wins customers. According to Zendesk, 3 in 4 customers will spend more with businesses that deliver good customer service. In addition, customers who feel valued by a business will likely become repeat customers.
One of the most important skills that every business should teach their agents is empathy. Just how important is this skill to customer service? 96% of customers view empathy as vital to customer service interactions. Surely you would not want to disappoint this percentage of your customers. But how do you show empathy in customer service? This article will provide you with some answers to that question.
Ways To Show Empathy In Customer Service
- Practice Active Listening
- Use Empathy Phrases
- Allow Them To Vent
- Treat Customers With Respect
- Acknowledge Customer’s Concerns
- Look At The Issue From The Customer’s Perspective
- Remove Biases
- Take Ownership of the Problem
- Go The Extra Mile
- Follow Up And Ensure Resolution
Ways To Show Empathy In Customer Service
Empathy is an important skill that every agent should possess. Showing empathy helps them understand customers better. Research shows that 52% of consumers stopped purchasing from a company due to poor communication, with 17% saying “insensitivity” as their primary reason. But how do you empathize with the customers? Read on and be guided on how to show empathy and deliver effective customer service.
1. Practice Active Listening
Active listening means giving your full attention to the customer. In active listening, your job is to let the customer speak without interruption. Do not offer a solution until they are done telling you about the problem. Avoid making any conclusions. This way, you will be able to provide them with the best solution once you have heard their concern.
While listening to the customer, be aware of their tone of voice. It will be helpful if you will take down notes to help keep information organized and centralized in one place. Customers are not really good at explaining which makes it more of a challenge for you. You can only fully understand their needs by giving your full attention to the customer.
Once the customer has explained their concern, summarize or paraphrase their concerns to make sure that you fully and correctly understand the problem. Ask clarifying questions to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. If you are on a video call with the customer, pay attention to their body language and maintain eye contact.
2. Use Empathy Phrases
After listening to the customer, use empathy phrases to show them that you acknowledge and understand their situation. Using phrases like “I can imagine how you feel,” or “I understand where you are coming from.” is one way of assuring them that you got their back. Think of it this way, how would your customers feel if they hear phrases like “I don’t know” or “It’s not possible” from you?
The goal of empathy is to gain the trust and confidence of the customer that you will handle their concern and alleviate their frustration. Keep in mind that your customer is already frustrated and angry. Instead of acting in the same manner, use positive language as it will keep you stay in control of the situation.
In addition, using empathy phrases can help boost customer engagement, boost their satisfaction with your service, and increase customer loyalty even if they have had an issue with your company. Empathy phrases can give customers the notion that you care for and value them.
3. Allow Them To Vent
Sometimes customers are just looking for a channel to vent their frustration. As the middleman between them and the company, you are the first thing that will come to their minds. When they reach out to you, just let them share their frustration. Don’t make the situation worse by butting in and arguing with them. Just let them “get it all out” and do not interrupt.
Customers vent because of two things: 1) They want to express their feelings and 2) They are looking for solutions to their problems. While the customers are venting, just stay quiet. Nothing can make customers more irate than being told to calm down while they are venting. Customers just want to be heard. More importantly, don’t take it personally because the customer is just venting out their frustrations.
Once the customer has calmed down, that’s the time you can butt in and recommend solutions. Start by summing up what the customer has said. Before everything else, validate their feelings before acting on the problem.
4. Treat Customers With Respect
Respect can go a long way in customer retention. Don’t look at customers as numbers but as humans. Never talk down to the customer or talk over them. Think of it as a casual conversation and they will appreciate it. Combining service and respect can help establish an empathetic connection. Respecting the customer is vital for maintaining a good relationship and ensuring customer loyalty.
One way to show respect to the customer is to acknowledge your mistake and inform them immediately. Never shift the blame to the customer because it is a sign of disrespect on your part. In addition, you should respond as soon as possible to their concern. This gives the customer the notion that you value their time and opinion.
Finally, always keep your promises. When you tell something to the customer, stick to it at all costs. When you think that a solution is not possible, let the customer know. Sticking to your promise is a sign of respect. If you tell the customer that you can resolve their problem within a timeframe, make sure to do so. Unless it is unavoidable, promises should never be broken.
5. Acknowledge Customer’s Concerns
When a customer contacts you with an issue about your products or services, the first thing to do is acknowledge it. When a customer vents their frustration or disappointment and gets the feeling that you do not understand it, they might feel rejected or add tension to the conversation. Psychologists call this “communication chain.” When a person delivers a verbal message, they expect the other person to respond otherwise the chain link will be broken.
Acknowledging customer concerns provides the link to the communication between you and the customer. It allows them to connect and be at ease because they know that you understand them and will do everything to resolve your issue. When you acknowledge customer concerns, it helps build trust and loyalty. Finally, it provides you an opportunity to show the customer how you will resolve their issue.
6. Look At The Issue From The Customer’s Perspective
There is no better way to resolve a customer service issue than putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. Changing places with the customer for a moment will allow you to better practice empathy in customer service because you know and understand their feelings. It will allow you to see the issue in a different light.
Having the same perspective as the customer will provide you an insight into their pain points and frustrations. In the end, it can assure your customers that you know what they need and that you care for them. Since you know what they want, it will be easier to build rapport and connection with them.
Analyze the issue and ask yourself how would you react if you were in the same situation as the customer. It will help you find a quick way to resolve the issue or provide support. When you see through their eyes, you will be able to grow trust and build respect. Understanding your customers is the key to efficient delivery of service.
7. Remove Biases
As a customer service agent, you may have some biases that may prevent you from showing empathy to the customer. Of course, you will deny it but unconscious bias is a natural instinct. When you make assumptions or stereotype customers, it can significantly impact the quality of experience you will deliver to the customer. It can be manifested in the way you interact with the customer or the language you use.
While it can be difficult to eliminate unconscious bias, you must find ways to set it aside when dealing with a customer. Your biased perception of a customer can cloud your ability to make a sound and fair resolution of the issue at hand. Having certain assumptions may turn a potential sale into a lost business. Thus, it is always important to clear yourself of any biases when providing customer service.
Effective customer service will not become possible unless you remove customer stereotyping from your system. Don’t make assumptions when dealing with customers. Who knows? The customer you are judging may be the one who will convert. Business owners can do their part in removing biases by inculcating cultural diversity in the organization.
8. Take Ownership of the Problem
In a tense situation, the best thing to do is to deal with the conflict right away. You can reduce the tension that the customer is feeling by showing them that their concern is being taken care of. How do you do that? By taking ownership of the problem. Regardless of who is at fault, your accountability can go a long way in appeasing a frustrated customer.
Taking ownership of a concern can help increase the customer retention rate and customer loyalty. Accountability means making the customer’s problem your problem. After hearing out the customer, you can take ownership by providing them with possible solutions that they can choose from. You can offer to put them on hold, send an email, or call back. By taking ownership, you empower yourself to help the customer quickly and efficiently.
Taking ownership of the customer’s problem can help build trust and confidence in your service. It will make them feel truly valued and can lead to a positive customer experience. It teaches agents to be proactive in dealing with customers.
9. Go The Extra Mile
Effective customer service goes beyond offering the best product. You are expected to address the customer’s needs but exceeding it can make you stand out from the competition. One of the best ways to surpass customer expectations is to go the extra mile. Customers are the lifeblood of an organization. According to Forbes, 80% of a company’s revenue will come from 20% of its existing customers. With this in mind, you need to focus on continuously delighting customers.
Going the extra mile means taking proactive steps to ensure that customer’s needs are not only addressed but also leave with a positive and memorable experience. Aside from boosting customer loyalty, you also get positive word of mouth. Going the extra mile means owning up to your mistakes even if it was not technically your fault.
There are many examples of going the extra mile. From replacing a damaged or broken item free of charge to offering gifts during birthdays, these small gestures can reassure the customer that you are doing your best to alleviate their frustrations. More importantly, it can greatly contribute to customer satisfaction and the long-term success of your business.
10. Follow Up And Ensure Resolution
Customer service does not end when an issue has already been resolved or the product has been delivered. If the concern is about shipping, empathy in customer service means ensuring that you continuously monitor the parcel and update the customer regarding the status of shipping.
Don’t forget to follow up on the customer after a problem has been solved to make sure that the issue has been resolved. You can send them a follow up email or a feedback survey. A follow up is also a great way to uncover possible issues that your company can work out on to further improve products or services.
When you follow up with the customer even after resolving the issue, it can give them the notion that you really value them and look forward to continuing to do business with them. By checking in on them regularly, you can retain and grow your customer base, boost your reputation, and increase your sales.
Empathy in customer service is one of the most important skills that every customer service team should know and practice. Putting yourself in the shoes of the customer can go a long way in boosting your sales and helping you break through the noise in a competitive industry.
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