In this video Jeff Toister will help you understand the importance of expressing empathy during your customer service calls. He'll help you determine how to empathize with angry or upset customers. Try using the five helpful steps that make up the acronym LAURA: Listen, Acknowledge, Understand, Relate and Act.
- One of the most important steps you can take when solving a problem is to express empathy. Empathy can be a tricky skill to master but this video will give you a few ideas to try. Let's start with why empathy is important. Empathy is defined as the identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. In customer service, expressing empathy is the ability to demonstrate to your customer that you understand what they're thinking or feeling. Psychologists call this validation.
The idea is to make the customer feel okay for feeling the way they do. Empathizing with an upset customer over the phone is critical. A study conducted by Mattersight learned that 75% of customers have felt frustrated after talking to a customer service rep on the phone, even if their problem was solved. Empathy comes from having a similar or relatable experience. This isn't always easy, especially if you've never been in the same situation. For example, someone in technical support might have trouble empathizing with her customers because she can fix her own computer.
So, I've created a few exercises to help you empathize with your customers. You might want to pause the video and download the empathy worksheet so you can use it to follow along with me. Are you ready? Okay, think of a common situation where a customer might get angry. The first step is to describe the problem. For example, your customer might have been shipped the wrong item, they might have been confused by your product or service, or they might have a billing question. The next step is to describe why you think the customer was upset.
Try to think beyond the problem. If a customer is calling about a billing problem they might really be upset because they're anxious about money. The third step is to think about a situation where you had a similar feeling. If your customer is anxious about money, try to think of a time when you felt the same way. Finally, think of a way you can demonstrate that you understand your customer's feelings. I like to think of the name Laura to guide me with this part. It's an acronym that spells out five empathy techniques.
Listen to the customer, then acknowledge their feelings. Understand their emotional needs, and then find a way to relate to them. Finally, act to make things better. You may often find that it doesn't take much time or effort to express empathy. Just make sure it's genuine. Listen to this exchange between a coffee shop customer and a barista. The customer is angry that her latte doesn't have enough vanilla in it, and she's experienced the problem before. Notice how the barista takes a moment to empathize before fixing the problem.
(woman clearing throat) - [Voiceover] Hi, may I help you? - [Voiceover] Yeah, you guys screwed up my drink order again. I was here two days ago and you did the exact same thing. I asked for four pumps of vanilla, you gave me, like, maybe two. - [Voiceover] Well I'm sorry we didn't get it right but I'd be happy to remake it for you and add more vanilla. - [Voiceover] Yeah, I don't understand why this keeps happening, like four pumps of vanilla, how hard can that be? - [Voiceover] (laughs) I completely understand, I'm actually a peppermint person myself. Can't get enough of it. This was a vanilla latte, right? - [Voiceover] Yeah, nonfat. - [Voiceover] Okay, you hang on to this one, I'm going to make a new one.
That way you can do a little taste test afterwards and make sure I get it right, cool? - [Voiceover] Okay. - You may have heard the barista using the Laura technique. He started by listening to the customer, and then acknowledging her feelings. He was careful to understand the customer's emotional needs and then relate to them by sharing his own fondness for peppermint. Finally, he acted to make things better. Okay, now it's your turn to try using these empathy techniques. Try to use the empathy worksheet to identify some specific ways you can demonstrate empathy when one of your customers is upset.
Mastering this skill can go a long way towards making angry customers feel a lot better.
- Developing the perfect phone greeting
- Filling dead air
- Managing holds and transfers
- Expressing empathy
- De-escalating angry callers