empathy

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

Be Understanding if You Don’t Understand – 7/21/15 TOW

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


Why is this person so wigged out? This customer won’t make eye contact with me – weird. I really have no idea why they’re asking me that question. Of all the things to complain about, they chose THAT?

People are different. Some people fly off the handle when they’re put on hold for even ten seconds while others patiently wait 15-20 minutes as long as there’s nice music. I conducted training for a hospital once, where – at the break – two things happened; one person complained that the room was too hot, and another person went to their office to get a sweater because the room was too cold.

I don’t claim to understand everyone; what I think is irrational, unprofessional, or rude may be deemed appropriate behavior by others. What I consider to be a minor issue is a federal offense to others.

The lens through which I see the world is not the same as everyone else. And while the world’s a more interesting place because of that, those varied lenses can make delivering great customer service that much more difficult.

So even though we should “seek to understand,” sometimes we just can’t. In those cases, still be understanding of that human being on the phone, behind the e-mail, or facing you at that moment. Even if the complaint, the issue, the reaction, their body language or tone is so foreign to you that you can’t understand it or why it’s happening, still try to understand it’s a human being who’s being human.

This is why empathy is so important. You don’t have to “feel their pain” to convey you care about them as a person. You don’t have to understand WHY they’re frustrated to understand THAT they’re frustrated.

When you don’t understand, it’s okay. Know that despite all you don’t understand coming from that individual, sometimes the best thing is just to be understanding.

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Know the Person’s Story – 6/23/15 TOW

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


The person standing in front of you – that customer – has an issue. They were overcharged, received a past due penalty because they didn’t get it rectified in time, and want it all corrected with the penalty waived.

You’ve dealt with a similar issue 100 times, so you know the process, but do you know the person?

Let’s see…

Prior to standing in front of you, that customer waited 8 minutes in line. Prior to that, they rode a cramped (and somewhat smelly) elevator to your floor. Before that, they waited 3 minutes for an elevator.

Prior to finding the elevator, they walked/jogged in a driving rain from the back section of the parking lot to the building. Prior to that, they drove past your building because of poor signage and had to go around the block again to get back to the entrance. Before that, they drove 25 minutes to get to your offices.

Three days prior to that, they called your organization’s general number, waited on hold for 3 minutes, and then were told they’d have to come downtown with proof of the overbill to get the issue rectified. Prior to that, they tried to find out how to fix it by going to your website, but they spent more than 15 minutes online, including an attempted live chat, and couldn’t get an answer.

Two days before that, they got in an argument with their spouse who saw the past due notice and saw how much he THOUGHT she paid for the service before realizing it was overcharged.

Two weeks prior to that, the customer left a voice mail for an employee that was never returned. A week prior to that, the customer received the initial invoice.

Let’s revisit where we’re at right now. They’re standing in front of you with an issue you’ve addressed 100 times. The transaction should take 3 minutes.

You now know the full story. What are you going to do differently?

Know the story of the person behind the problem.

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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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