The Importance of Empathy in Customer Support

When you describe the basics of customer support, it seems rather obvious that empathy is a crucial part of the role. As the Cambridge Dictionary states, empathy is ‘the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation’. Makes sense that it’s important in a position that involves talking to customers and resolving their issues every day. Let’s dig a little deeper.

What does empathy bring to the table?

Let’s say that you ordered something online and even paid for priority shipping. Your parcel arrives, but it isn’t what you ordered. You speak to customer support and they say that you need to return the parcel and they’ll send you a replacement. There is no apology and no concern at all for your frustrations. You end up feeling annoyed, let down. Now let’s imagine a different scenario in which the customer support agent apologises for the error, and stays connected with you every step of the way until its resolved. They admit their mistake and offer to send you the correct item as soon as possible. You feel heard and respected…and will most likely buy from that company again.

Many of us lost control of our day-to-day lives over the past year. Everything that we thought we knew about the world changed as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We live with governments modifying restrictions from one day to the next. We feel like our lives have been put on hold. But, what does this have to do with customer service? Well, with the majority of purchases being made digitally, customer service is one of the few differentiators out there. We still feel anxious and uncertain about the future, and want to have stress-free buying processes, to regain some of the control that we’ve lost. 

It seems oh-so-simple but in reality, not enough companies are putting an emphasis on empathy (tongue twister!) when it comes to customer support. This will lead to customer loyalty. After all, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. Happy customers will generate positive reviews, and all of this ultimately leads to higher revenue and lower customer churn…a win/win right?

How can you do better?

Some people are naturally empathetic. They have high levels of emotional intelligence and can easily relate to what people are going through. You want these people on your team. Put empathy as a job requirement and include it in the interview process. Those who are natural empaths will be excellent additions to your customer service team. You can figure out if someone is empathetic through different interview questions.

But don’t worry, you can also train people to be more empathetic. One great way of doing this is having customer support agents attend focus groups so that they can hear the customers discuss your company and become involved in the conversation. You should also allow your team members to act as customers. To go through the buying and use process. They will experience your product/service first hand and understand the frustrations that they hear about on a daily basis. 

Record and analyse all support calls, so that you can highlight moments that could have been handled better. Organise weeky or monthly meetings with your team to go through the most common complaints and come up with strategies to deal empathetically with the issues. By investing in training, you will both motivate your team members and boost performance. Remember…happy agents lead to happy customers! 

Ask and act upon customer feedback. Send surveys and record customer support calls and emails to create a big picture of sentiments towards your brand/products. You can also ask for instant feedback by incorporating a QR code on your product which will lead to unfiltered crucial information for you to make improvements.

Do you have any more thoughts on how to bring more empathy into your customer support team? Let us know below! 

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