empathy

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

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Jamey Needed to Slow Down – 6/10/14 TOW

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


Jamey is young, but he’s pretty good at sales – his new sales numbers generally prove the point. He seems to care about fixing issues, speaks articulately, and responds quickly and specifically “on his feet” when asked the tough questions or challenged. He’s confident, so Jamey was shocked when one of his accounts told him “That’s not how things are done in the South; you’ve got to develop a relationship first.”

Jamey had responded to every request or question, quickly. He was speedy in resolution to issues. He didn’t take up too much of the customer’s time on the phone – the conversations were short and quick.

The problem was that Jamey’s quick responses, fast talking, and general speed (in everything he did) didn’t appeal to this client. The quick responses were good, but they were often a few words in an e-mail with no greeting such as “Nope. Can’t work that out this time.”

Jamey thought he was being considerate of the client’s time with his quick calls, but they were quick because Jamey was peppering his customer with questions instead of creating a more two-way conversational tone. When Jamey received a call from the account, he typically talked fast and hung up quickly. When Jamey fixed a problem quickly, he often didn’t call the client to ensure that the fix worked.

Even though Jamey did so many things technically correct, he didn’t have a good enough read on this account to tailor how he communicated about those “things” to the preference of his client. So the client interpreted that Jamey was impatient, rushed, or just didn’t care about the client.

In customer service, sometimes it’s not just about what you do or how quickly you do it; rather, to many customers, it’s how you communicate with them during the process.

Don’t rush through conversations like they’re just another box on the “To Do” list. Be patient. View relationship-building as a process.


I Assume She is Not Like Me – 3/4/14 TOW

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She left me a voice mail, and I prefer to respond via e-mail. She talks really fast, and I prefer a more casual speed. What she wants most is to be heard, and what I want most is to have my problem fixed. She wants to be walked through a process by an employee, and I want the self-service option.

She is the customer. I am the employee. We could not be more different.

But what if I prefer voice mail, I talk fast, I want to be heard, and I want that 1-on-1 employee support? Then we’re the same, correct?

The point is not in the determination of whether we’re the same or different. The point is that we can’t make assumptions that we and the customers are the same.

How I prefer to be communicated with, how I prefer a situation be handled, how I prefer to get a need met may be the same as 70% of my customers, but what about the other 30%? If I believe that they are like me, I could deliver some pretty lousy service to those 30%.

This is when we talk about the importance on not assuming the customer is just like us. This is when trying to convey empathy is so important. Because customers want their need or issue addressed, but many also want it addressed in a certain manner, and if we don’t take the initiative to identify not only what they want but how they want it received or handled, we could have a dissatisfied customer.

Don’t just describe what you’ll do for the customer, but confirm that will work. Don’t just assume how you’ll communicate with them, but ask their preference. Don’t just overlook the particulars of their situation, ask them for the details.

To deliver great customer service, we have to avoid the assumption they are like us and – instead – confirm the reality. Assume they’re different; that focus will force you to ask them about themselves, their needs, their issues, and their preferences. It will put you in a learning mindset, and it will make you better at serving them in the best manner possible.

Assume the customer is different from you.


Convey Compassion in Customer Service – 8/13/13 TOW

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The hospital promoted the 3 C’s: Compassionate Competent Care. The Care was what they provided – patient care, clinical care. Competent denoted that there was quality to what they provided. Compassionate signified. . .well. . .compassion.

So what is “Compassion” in customer service, and how does it apply even outside of healthcare?

There are several definitions of compassion, but the overriding one that applies to customer service is “sympathy, empathy, and concern for others, particularly for their issues or misfortune.” Customers want you to care for them, particularly when they’re in a tough situation. So you want to be compassionate.

Based on this definition of compassion, ask yourself a few questions. Are you aware of the customer’s issues? Are you understanding of their misfortunes? And just as importantly, how do you convey your understanding and concern?

There are ways to convey compassion with your words/phrases. Use these words frequently in dialogue with the customer to convey compassion for their issue/misfortune:

  • “Your issue” or “Your concern”
  • “You” used in a personal reference
  • “I understand”
  • “I care”
  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I’m concerned.”

What aspects of body language and tone of voice convey compassion?

  • Offer a gentle touch on the back or shoulder
  • Provide eye contact
  • Periodically nod your head
  • Acknowledge/engage the customer and their family/friends
  • Sit/kneel to customer’s eye level
  • Lean toward the customer rather than away or toward the door
  • Use a more quiet tone
  • Avoid utterances while customer is talking.

To be compassionate, use the words and non-verbal communications that convey you care.

Convey Compassion in Customer Service.