empathy | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by Read more

Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up - 1/30/24


Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work Read more

Be Better than AI Customer Service - 1/23/24


There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers. The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds. There are clear Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot - 1/16/24


The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower – 1/2/24

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

I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility.

Immediately, one of the hands in the room went up.  The employee said: I would never make statements like you’re suggesting.  Once you start saying you’re sorry or once you start acknowledging their feelings, they’re going to sense that you’re weak.  They’re gonna walk all over you.

I was a little bit taken aback initially, but not because somebody was challenging the technique.  Primarily, I was surprised somebody would consider it a weakness to be empathetic.  Somebody might consider it a weakness to accept responsibility.

I’ve always viewed empathy as a strength.  It’s a higher level of awareness, a higher level of caring for another person.  Being willing to look outside yourself to understand the unique needs and situations of another.  It’s a strength to have emotional awareness of others.  These are strong, positive attributes.

Now, I understand the employee’s point was that if you ‘put down your guard,’ if you acknowledge the other person, they may feel that they can berate you, or get you to do things on their behalf that are against policy, not ethical, or not the acceptable procedure.  But what he was suggesting was to maintain a defensive posture.  To not acknowledge the issue or any company responsibility.

What empathy does is to help the customer feel that you care, and to more quickly move you to a next step.  What lack of empathy does is to create a stalemate, to bog down the conversation, to S-L-O-W progress toward a resolution, and to ramp up the negative emotions.

Use empathy to make the customer feel better, to feel heard and understood.  But use it also because it saves you time, it keeps down emotions, and it moves the conversation along.

Use empathy as a strength.  Make it your superpower.

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It’s Not What You Did… – 12/12/23

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

The statistic we have quoted a lot relating to customer retention is that 68% of lost business is due to perceived indifference. That means that about 2 out of every 3 customers were lost because the customer perceived that that company was indifferent to them.

It’s kind of an odd way to look at things. This statistic does not suggest that the company specifically did something to lose the customer.  This statistic can be interpreted to convey that it was what the company did not do that lost the customer.

So, let’s think about this as it relates to our individual roles…

The reason for the customer loss may not be the billing error as much as it is the LONG process to get the error rectified.

The reason for the customer loss may not be the content of the e-mail in response to the customer complaint; instead, the reason may be the lack of empathy conveyed in the company response.

The reason the customer decided to start buying the product elsewhere may not have been the callback from the company after the customer left a voice message with a question; the reason could be the fact that the customer call was not returned for a week after the message was left.

The reason they didn’t renew their annual membership wasn’t that the membership was a bad value. It’s just that the only time the organization contacted the customer was when the company was trying to sell the customer something.

When you think about how to better the customer experience, instead of always focusing on how to improve what’s currently done, consider what aspects of the experience lack urgency on behalf of the customer, lack empathy, lack responsiveness, or lack an intent to develop a relationship.

To improve retention, don’t always focus on what the company did.  Sometimes focus on what the company did not do.

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Apply Selfless Service – 12/7/21

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

Andrea had worked in human resources for years, and the company decided that it wanted to hire employees who were more customer service-oriented, regardless of the position.  After making that decision, they added some creative questions to the interview process.

One of the most interesting questions that Andrea had to ask prospective employees was “Are you selfless?”  The answers that she received from applicants often made her either laugh or cry.  One response was “Why do ask that?  What have you heard about me?”  Another response was “Yes I can be selfless.  What’s in it for me?”

It’s a tough question to answer if you are not a naturally selfless person.  But many people who excel in customer service excel because they are selfless.  They are very good at empathizing with others’ situations.  They are exceptionally good at trying to do what’s best for the customer or best for the company without focusing on the third option:  What is best for me?

People who are selfless try to do things based on others’ needs and issues and goals.  And they make decisions based on what’s best for the person they are trying to serve.

Are you selfless?

To take it up a notch in our customer service approach, focus less on ourselves in conversations, and focus more on others.

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