empathy

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

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

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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Let the Patient Sleep – 10/28/14 TOW

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


The patient was sick and tired – not just of being sick and tired – but of being awakened multiple times in her hospital room each night to have vital signs checked. She was tired of nurses and doctors talking about her while she was in the room, but never involving her in the discussion. She was sick of being “stuck” multiple times to draw blood by techs more focused on the vein than the person with the vein. And she was frustrated with the feeling that the experience was being done to her, not being created for her.

This 15-year old described her “care” in this video taken by her mom.

She feels that those that care about her are those that allow her to sleep. She wants them to keep her engaged, and she’s more engaged when she’s awake. She can participate better if she’s alert. She can help them help her if they ask her questions about herself. She can be a part of the treatment if they let her know what’s going on instead of trying to protect her from…whatever requires “protection.”

This is a young lady, a child, a patient, a person who is simply stating her frustration of not being a part of something that directly impacts her; she’s upset that they don’t see the damage they do to her and her health by not allowing her to sleep. She wants to be heard.

Where could you better care for your customer by involving them in the discussion and decisions? Where could you make them feel better about the experience by creating an environment that doesn’t burden them and frustrate them? Where could you share more about the overall experience and steps with customers, instead of trying to keep the details from them?

Create a customer experience that includes openness, customer involvement, and an environment that fosters engagement.

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