How the Best Customer Service Representatives Respond with Empathy

Customer service is an industry that relies heavily on the emotional quotient (EQ) to deliver effective results. For customer service representatives, knowledge of the process and the brand is a definite must. However, EQ is of greater importance because it defines the way this knowledge is packaged to help customers. EQ is the human ability to recognise emotions, label them appropriately, and use this information to guide thoughts or actions. 

Empathy is typically associated with EQ since it involves a person connecting their personal experiences with those of others. Customer service executives have the use for empathy daily, as customers usually approach support as a last resort. So, many customer interactions tend to be in distress, frustration, or annoyance. In such scenarios, empathy serves as a neutraliser, enabling representatives to provide fast and suitable resolution. It also helps customers leave the interaction with greater satisfaction. 

Empathy serves as a neutralizer in representative-customer interactions.

Because empathy has such a vital role in customer service, irrespective of the platform it is provided on, recruiters actively look for candidates’ capacity to be empathetic. The best customer service professionals are empathetic because they:

  1. Welcome and engage the customer in conversation. The best customer agents kick off the conversation as an indicator of how the brand communicates, and this often means conversations double as icebreakers. When customers are invited into the conversation, they don’t feel alienated from the brand itself, which helps strengthen their loyalty. 
  2. Accurately summarise the customer’s concern. After a customer has stated their enquiry, repeating it back to them helps confirm the understanding of both agent and customer. Agents can bridge any gaps in their understanding right away, and the customer is left feeling that they were taken seriously. This can help them be more forthcoming with any additional information that will be useful in the process of resolution. 
  3. Present the best hopeful outcome and highlight the positive side of the situation. Many times, customers may bring up concerns that are common to many users of a brand’s product/service. It is also common for them to highlight issues that have already been identified at the backend. In such cases, letting customers in on what’s happening and the status of resolution exhibits transparency and the brand’s proactive approach to user queries.
  4. Personalise the customer’s experience by referring to their stated and unstated needs. Often, problems that may seem unique to customers aren’t unique to brand advocates. But, as representatives, packaging resolutions as generalisations may give customers the impression that the brand doesn’t care about them. Good agents let customers know they are heard, drawing on empathy to add personal touches to the interaction, thus adding value. 
  5. Tell the customer how their issue will be resolved. As good service agents explain the process, they will also get a chance to address any fear, discomfort, or dissatisfaction at the customer’s end, regardless of whether customers mention them. Conveying concrete steps of action to resolve the customers’ query, and being intuitive about their experience can be reassurances by themselves. However, good customer service advisors will have to ensure what has been promised is followed through to maintain customers’ faith in the brand.
  6. Take charge of the interaction. Experiencing issues as a user of a product/service puts people in a vulnerable position since access to information about the problem is limited. When customers reach out for support, they may have many questions specific to their experience. As representatives who have access to behind-the-scenes information, it is expected that we will guide the conversation, offer appropriate steps, and reassure customers of our commitment to resolve their concern. The best way to execute these steps is to take a proactive approach so that customers don’t feel compelled to identify solutions on their own.