Customers connecting with your contact center are looking for empathy as well as the resolution of their issues. When interacting with your Communicators, they want understanding, not pity.
A recent Aspect Software study shows that customers who reported an exceptional contact center experience also rated Communicator empathy very high, at 88 percent. This strongly suggests that strong empathy skills, in addition to providing customers with the service they require, are key to ensuring customer satisfaction.
Empathy is achieved in not only what the Communicator says but in his or her tone. Communicators exhibit empathy when they intently listen to the customer’s concerns and respond with warmth and sincerity. Oftentimes, paraphrasing the customer’s message back to him or her effectively communicates understanding without judgment. At the same time, Communicators should avoid sharing personal opinions or experiences; instead, they should maintain a professional and courteous manner.
While some aspects of empathy can be taught, contact center managers should attempt to hire Communicators who are naturally inclined to be empathetic and reassuring. When training is warranted, role playing is a good technique for managers to employ, bringing in appropriate remediation, including Communicator motivation (to build the trust that is essential to winning and retaining customers). Oftentimes, Communicator training includes learning rote phrases to use with customers; however, these often are more sympathetic than empathetic, which can sound condescending and insincere.
Instead, consider using empathy statements like those listed below, offered by Call Centre Helper, that exude the empathy that can lead to the development of customer/Communicator rapport. When communicating empathy, remember to use personal pronouns (“I” and “you”) to show personal involvement and interest:
- I want to make sure that I truly understand what you’re telling me. I’m hearing that …
- If I get your message wrong, please correct me before we’re done.
- I will help you get this issue resolved.
- Thank you for bringing this concern to our attention so that we can deal with it immediately.
- I understand the problem and I’m taking the following steps to resolve it …
- Your satisfaction means everything to us. Have we covered everything that you wanted to discuss today?
These are just examples, as it’s important that Communicators relate to customers naturally; otherwise, their sincerity could be called into question. Demonstrating sincerity and empathy will allow for better interaction for both parties.
When contact center leaders establish a culture based on core brand values, such as treating co-workers and customers fairly and politely, and set a good example in the workplace, then carryover from staff to customers will be easier to accomplish and reinforce.