6 ways to establish empathy in customer service
Providing good customer service is vital to every business. However, some still struggle to meet their customers’ expectations.
A company may have good quality products and services, but it cannot connect well with its customers, making the need for empathy even more critical.
That said, the key to having great customer service is understanding your customers through practicing empathy.
Customer experience is dependent on empathy. A lack of empathy can be as damaging as indifference, insufficient knowledge, or even hostility toward your customers.
Through empathy, businesses can offer a superior customer experience, leading to long-term loyalty, higher profitability, and a thriving workforce with reduced turnover.
Read this article to learn the six ways to establish empathy in customer service.
What is empathy in customer service?
In customer service, if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it becomes easier for customers to trust you and feel understood by you.
According to Salesforce’s latest report, 61% of customers have stopped purchasing from a company because a competitor provided a better customer experience. Many firms fail to recognize that empathy in customer service is the key to fostering good relationships with their patrons.
It involves understanding other people’s perspectives. This allows customers to express their frustrations without fear of judgment or criticism from the person they’re talking to.
Why is empathy important in customer service?
Empathy in customer service is often overlooked. However, it is a crucial component and a humanizing force for businesses as it helps bridge the gap between its customers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of a business and forget the value of empathy. However, this is a mistake because it can help enterprises to retain customers and generate more sales.
In fact, empathy is at the very core of successful relationships. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to connect with others as strongly as we do.
Training agents to be empathetic can be advantageous. Empathetic employees tend to stick around longer since they enjoy working for a company that cares about its customers and employees alike— which means less turnover.
One of the highlights of having an offshore team by your side is their ability to empathize with customers easily. SixEleven, a leading service provider in the Philippines, arms their clients with teams ready to handle support services with empathy.
6 ways to establish empathy in customer service
Customer service can be difficult. It’s easy to see why so many businesses fail at it. One of the best ways to improve your customer service is to develop empathy for consumers.
When you understand what they’re going through, providing them with what they want becomes much easier.
Here are six ways to establish empathy in customer service:
1. Put yourself in your customers’ perspective
Having empathy means understanding what it feels like to be on the receiving end of someone else’s behavior, so try to imagine what it would feel like if you were in their place.
When you empathize with a customer, you can better understand what they want from you and how best to help them. Start by putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself what would make this situation easier for them.
For example, if someone has just been through a terrible experience on your website but still wants to buy from you? You could offer them a discount code or free shipping, so they don’t have to go through the same trouble again.
2. Encourage active listening
Active listening means more than just repeating what someone has said — it means actively paying attention to what they say and responding appropriately.
Many people think they listen well when just waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can respond. Active listening means truly hearing what the other person is saying and responding accordingly.
This helps build trust because they know that both parties involved in the conversation heard and understood what they said.
3. Use positive language and tone of voice
Bear in mind that positive language and tone of voice matter too. The words should convey empathy, regardless of how you say them.
For instance, if a customer says, “I’m so frustrated with this process,” don’t respond with something like, “Well, what did you expect?” In such a case, try using positive language and tone of voice by saying something like, “I understand how frustrating this must be.”
Empathy starts with you as an individual — not just what you say but how you say it.
4. Overcome your biases
It’s hard for people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes if they’re biased against that person or group. Biases can prevent us from understanding where other people are coming from.
To overcome our biases and develop empathy in customer service, you need to acknowledge them first. Try to look at situations from another person’s perspective instead of your own.
5. Provide empathy training
According to PwC’s 2018 report, 59% of customers feel companies have lost touch with the human element in customer experience. This is the time to instill empathy in customer service by training employees.
Empathy training helps employees recognize their emotions and those of others. In turn, they can respond more effectively during customer interactions.
Typically, human resources professionals can lead sessions on emotional intelligence (EQ). It can teach employees how to manage their own emotions and recognize those others exhibit.
This can be done through one-on-one coaching or group workshops where participants learn about EQ concepts through case studies or role plays.
6. Measure and analyze customer feedback
Customer feedback is one of the best ways to know whether your team members have developed empathy for your customers’ needs.
It’s important to measure how well your team members are doing against objective standards for empathy.
You can check how many complaints result from poor communication or lack of follow-up on customer issues. This lets you get valuable insights from that feedback and create action plans to provide better customer service.
Create positive experiences through empathy in customer service
It isn’t always enough to offer top-notch products. Going above and beyond in terms of customer experience means proactively handling their needs.
Promoting empathy in customer service makes them more likely to return for future purchases or services. When they return, they will also likely recommend your business to others.
It can go a long way toward building up your brand reputation and helping you grow in the long run.
Customers’ expectations. Luk, S.T.K. and Layton, R. (2002). Perception Gaps in Customer Expectations: Managers Versus Service Providers and Customers. The Service Industries Journal, 22(2), pp.109–128. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/714005073.
 Customer experience. Gentile, C., Spiller, N. and Noci, G. (2007). How to Sustain the Customer Experience: An Overview of Experience Components that Co-create Value With the Customer. European Management Journal, 25(5), pp.395–410.