empathy

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Tell Me Something Good – 6/28/16 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


I believe that the original version of “Tell Me Something Good” was by Rufus. The name of the group might not ring a bell, but one of their singers you may know – Chaka Khan.

Why are we talking about a 42-year old song?

Because those simple words represent a customer’s hopes when they’re talking with you. They want you to tell them something good.

When they have an issue, they want you to tell them that you’re going to work on it, to resolve it, or to offer an alternative.

When they have a question, they want you to tell them something that will provide the answer, clarity, or direction.

When they have a need to address, they want you to tell them you can charter a path to the solution.

When you have to deliver the bad news, it helps to tell them that the organization cares about them, is apologetic, and will do better in the future. Tell them there are other options they can consider.

When they are engaged with you and giving you money, they want you to tell them something that conveys you appreciate them and their business.

When they point out an issue in your company, they want you to acknowledge their voice, their input, and their effort to help you improve. And then they want you to tell them what you’ll do next. Later, they want you to tell them that you did it.

Sometimes all the customer service training, advice, and guidance can fill your mind with too many ideas, techniques, and thoughts to truly deliver a great customer experience.

So what’s a good guiding principle for any customer encounter? Bring something positive to every conversation.

Tell them something good.

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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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