empathy

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Sympathy – the Customer Service Conundrum – 4/5/16 TOW

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The employee tried to defuse the customer who was upset by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client was obviously unhappy, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

Maybe these responses from the employee seem appropriate – or maybe they seem out of bounds. But if you’re teetering on your decision about whether these are good or bad employee statements, read the following – the same scenarios with more context.

The employee tried to defuse the long-term customer who was upset about the no-return policy by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer who had been on hold for over an hour “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client couldn’t get the answer to their question on the website or on the phone and was obviously unhappy having to go downtown to the company offices, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

How do the employee responses seem to you now? The problem with these statements is that they are far more focused on sympathy than empathy. They are more about stating how the employee knows the exact customer situations and maybe even has the same feelings as the customer. But often, when employees try to move from sympathy to empathy, they run a big risk.

Do they know the whole customer story? Do they truly feel what the customer feels? Does a customer want an employee to sound like the real victim of poor customer service? No. No. No.

Be careful when trying to convey to the customer that you truly know the full extent of their situation and to feel their feelings. In most cases, you don’t, and that’s okay.

Instead of serving up sympathy, show empathy. You don’t have to “feel their feelings” to provide great customer service.

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To Dream the Impossible Dream – 12/1/15 TOW

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Anybody a Frank Sinatra fan? The song “To Dream the Impossible Dream” was a hit for him, and the lyrics as well as the build-to-a-crescendo music can send chills down your spine. It can inspire. It can make you believe you can do what may not seem possible…to run where the brave dare not go…to right the unrightable wrong…to reach the unreachable star…or to teach someone how to be empathetic.

Okay, empathy was not in the lyrics, but when I’ve often stated that empathy is the most important characteristic for someone to have to be great at customer service, it begs the question “What do we do about employees who are not necessarily empathetic?”

After all – can you really teach empathy? Yes and no.

No, you can’t teach someone to have that natural tendency toward trying to understand others, to be able to readily see life through the eyes of those different from themselves.

But yes, you can teach the benefits of and need for empathy. You can teach the intellectual components of empathy. You can show what empathetic tone of voice and body language look like to others.

From the “intellectual components” perspective, empathy is conveyed – in part – by people who appropriately probe to learn about others. We can teach staff to say “Help me understand what happened” or “I want to learn about the background” or “Tell me about your situation.” Asking the questions helps to create the understanding by having that other person – the customer or co-worker – share their thoughts, perspective, opinions, feelings, background, and history.

You can convey empathy by stating your understanding of what the customer just stated. You can stop other activities, make the eye contact, nod periodically as the customer talks, and document what they said to show you’re listening, to remember what they said, and to convey you care.

Dream the impossible dream. Teach the tools that help staff to become more empathetic.

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Making the Most of Millennial Moments – 9/1/15 TOW

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Millennials are an exceptionally large and growing segment of the customer base of many businesses. They are a unique – and in some ways – demanding group. And when it comes to customer service, there are a few tricks of the trade to consider.

First, avoid the assumption that all Millennials are the same – that they’re all tech geniuses with little interest in two-way verbal communication. Millennials are as varied as baby boomers and Gen X. Still work to view each one as an individual, regardless of age.

Second, although they’re not all the same, they have stronger characteristics that many preceding generations. They are typically very tech savvy, so when communicating with them, the web-based, self-service option may be preferable to them. So “teach them how to fish” for the future while you’re fishing for an answer to their question in the present.

Third, realize that their definition of rudeness may differ from yours. Looking at a smart phone while engaged with an employee might seem rude to the staff person, but it’s part of the highly wired nature of the Millennial customer. Avoid the urge to react negatively to the customer; they don’t intend to be rude – they just haven’t learned the appropriate etiquette yet.

Fourth, realize it’s (almost) all about speed. Some Millennials are upset if a friend hasn’t replied to a text immediately; they’re upset if the website doesn’t load in 1-2 seconds. They get concerned if someone doesn’t “like” their social media post in the first 5 minutes. That expectation for speed impacts their desired customer service experience. They want swift responsiveness – provide it or be intentional about managing expectations immediately.

Finally, go for mutual respect. Speed isn’t everything; respect is huge to these customers. Although they’re young, they’re typically smart, opinionated, and understand they’re important. While the wisdom of age may not have become part of their top personal qualities yet, they want to feel respected.

When managing those Moments of Truth with Millennials, look at each one as unique, be an educator, be aware that they may not see their own perceived rudeness, be responsive, and convey respect.

Make the most of Millennial moments.

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