Handling a situation with empathy can break the anger you would otherwise have to deal with.
Some of you might have heard of ‘The Telephone Doctor’, Nancy Friedman. Nancy is a woman that had one too many poor customer service experiences and decided to do something about it. Her company specializes in training businesses in telephone and customer service skills.
The Telephone Doctor did a survey of people to seek out traits and characteristics of companies that provide the best and most appreciated customer service. I am going to list and discuss the seven traits that were the highest in the survey. Remember, you and your staff can learn and implement these skills; no one has a monopoly on a great service mentality!
The #1 trait in the survey was Empathy: The definition of empathy is ‘The identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.’ Simply stated, this is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I don’t believe that everyone is born with this ability and I also believe that there are people that are innately gifted in this area. However, I do believe that we all have the ability to learn how to be more empathetic.
How many of us have encountered apathy instead of empathy when we have been trying to state a problem or obtain some help? Trying to communicate with an apathetic person is like swimming upstream and, depending on your ‘default’ response, can send you into a rage, a depression or tears.
An easy way to help yourself and/or to train your staff is to – before you speak or act - simply consciously take a moment to interject yourself into the situation. Make it personal without getting totally wrapped up in it. How would you feel if this happened to you? What would you like the company representative to say to you?
If making it that personal doesn’t work for you, try something else. What kind of treatment would you expect your best friend or your mother to receive? What would you do to get them help? Be that helpful person as you deal with the client.
You would be surprised that a simple sentence can make a world of difference. Think about a few sentences that you can make part of your response toolbox. You don’t have to get sappy or weepy to empathize. Here are a few suggestions:
‘I’m sorry that happened. If you would please give me your name, I can help you.’
‘I’m sorry to hear that...’
‘That is certainly unfortunate…’
‘That is an unfortunate situation…’
‘I can understand why that is a problem for you…’
Try these phrases out and have them in your back pocket. You would be surprised to discover how simple it is to respond empathetically and open the door to providing great service – the client will walk right through it!
Does empathy intersect with the customer service your company provides?
Does your staff have more apathy than empathy?