empathy

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Compliment the Customer – 4/21/15 TOW

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


Bob’s home phone (the landline) was not working, and he had called the phone company (using his cell phone) to get it addressed; it worked for an hour and then stopped working again. Bob called the phone company again two days later and noted that the problem had reappeared. The automated system walked him through some questions and remotely rebooted the “gateway,” but the problem persisted. So he called back a third time to talk to a customer service representative. And while there was no resolution, the representative – Vernon – scheduled a service appointment for a technician.

Twice near the end of the call, Vernon told the customer “you’re very nice” (in a platonic, very appreciative tone). He truly appreciated Bob not getting upset; he appreciated Bob working with him on different options to resolve the issue.

This was not a scripted “Thank you for calling” or “I appreciate your business.” This was a sincere compliment to the customer.

Why did the representative provide this compliment? Because if you work in the world of customer service, you know what it’s like to deal with the angry, rude, and unrealistic customers. You know what it’s like to suffer the slings and arrows for the errors of others.

So you also know what it feels like to run across someone who’s not like that at all. You appreciate those customers that are kind, despite their frustration. You appreciate those who are patient even when having an issue. You enjoy the nice person, the empathetic client, the one who asks about you and compliments you.

You appreciate them and those qualities they offer when they could – instead – be negative.

In customer service, you’re often trying to make the experience special for the customer.

Compliment the customer when they make an encounter special for you.

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Reach Out and Touch Someone…Literally – 2/10/15 TOW

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


Okay, so I’m going to get in trouble with some of you for this one – but it’s an idea to consider.

When face-to-face with that co-worker or customer, sometimes a gentle touch on the shoulder or arm is appropriate or helpful. Studies have shown that hugs can create chemical reactions that can aid one’s health, feelings, and even healing. I’m no clinician, but this point isn’t clinical. It’s personal. Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with people if there’s an invisible wall not allowing any contact. It can be tough to convey we care purely with words when we’re not willing to extend our hand to the other.

It’s hard to be empathetic during those conversations where pain and hurt are involved if we keep an artificial barrier between us.

Now we don’t want to become the grocery store chain that got sued by their check-out clerks because management encouraged the clerks to make eye contact with customers and smile (some customers felt that the clerks were flirting, which led to…uh…awkward exchanges).

We don’t expect you to act like the French, where a Ken Cooper study once showed that French patrons at outdoor Paris cafés casually touched each other 110 times per hour. But it also means we don’t have to be like some Londoners (0 touches per hour) or some Floridians (2 touches per hour).

The point is that sometimes caring for others requires that we do more than check their vital signs. It means that we have to do more than say “I care.” It means that we have to do more than smile or nod. Sometimes to show we care, to go beyond “professional” to “human,” we have to provide that human touch.

It’s a hand on the arm, a gentle pat on the shoulder, shaking the hand, or placing a hand on the back.

Do what’s appropriate and what you are comfortable doing – but be willing to do something. Don’t make the short distance that you stand from another person seem infinite…or infinitely impersonal.

Bridge the gap with the human touch.

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Not So Fast with Quick Issue Resolution – 11/4/14 TOW

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


The technique we suggest to our clients for dealing with the irate customer is easily taught but not easily perfected. It involves listening, empathizing, accepting responsibility, and delivering on a remedy. We’ve taught literally thousands of Service Excellence training participants how to use this highly effective technique, but many employees have trouble executing it well.

When observing staff role-playing the technique in their small groups, there are reasons why it sometimes doesn’t work – the employee’s tone doesn’t sound sincerely empathetic. The employee makes no eye contact. The employee doesn’t ask questions about the specifics of the issue. Maybe the employee gets defensive.

But the biggest pitfall stems from the fact that most employees want to get out of these conversations fast. There are two typically reasons for this desire for speed: (1) Employees are uncomfortable dealing with angry customers, so they quickly want to remove themselves from the situation, and (2) Employees sincerely believe that quick resolution is what the customer wants – which typically is true.

The biggest pitfall is an employee’s lack of patience.

Whether the employee is trying to extricate themselves from the conversation or help the customer get that quick resolution, the most frequent drawback in taking those perspectives is that they try to navigate the conversation too quickly. They’re not patient. They talk fast. They don’t give the customer enough time to vent. They quickly go to a solution without learning the facts. They interrupt the customer. They say “I’m sorry” so early on and so quickly that the sincerity is lost. They try to end the conversation before they allow the customer to drop the emotions. They try to take control with speed rather than take control with well-worded questions.

Quick resolution is a noble goal, but the best way to get there involves listening, empathizing, and being patient enough to ask the right questions so you can present the right solution. Speeding to an end rarely ends well.

Summon all your patience when presented with a service recovery situation.

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