Why Empathy is the Key to Excellent Customer Service
0 min read
We are having a renaissance moment in the realm of customer service.
More than ever, businesses have become focused on forging strong, meaningful relationships with their customers. We have powerful brands like Nordstrom, American Express and Zappos proving to the world that customer service can actually be a source of sustainable competitive advantage, not just another expense on the balance sheet.
We have new metrics like Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score that illustrate a renewed interest in the customer. These metrics have become so popular that new companies have sprung up just to help businesses measure and track these scores.
We have new thought leadership coming out every day extolling the virtues of customer service, declaring how we should be approaching the subject and warning of the dangers of ignoring it.
These are exciting times indeed!
With so much going on, it can be daunting to undertake an effort to reform your customer service. Blindly following best practices without truly grasping the essence of the concept can often result in a facade of customer-centricity, as opposed to a truly transformative experience.
In order to make a fundamental change in how they provide support, businesses must bring about a cultural change at every level of their organization. After all, companies known for exemplary customer support are not lauded for their call center KPIs; they are lauded for the way they make their customers feel. What steps can companies take to promote and foster a customer-centric culture?
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Empathy is the ability to share or understand the feelings of others. It’s an essential element of everyday relationships and can be equally powerful when it comes to company-customer relationships.
What does it mean for a company to show empathy to its customers? On the most basic level, companies demonstrate empathy by thoughtfully shaping the customer experience. Customers should be treated like individuals, rather than sources of revenue, on every step of their journey.
In the call center context, empathy can manifest in a variety of ways. It may look like a carefully chosen call queue song or an agent consciously addressing a caller by name.
Successful companies invest in promoting empathy because truly meaningful customer experiences spring from empathy. Without it, there can be no genuine customer service and your company will essentially just be “faking it” (and your customers will be able to tell).
Empathy is so important that we have an overarching societal value that we call the Golden Rule. So wouldn’t you expect empathy to be at the core of every company’s customer service strategy?
You might like to think so, but I would challenge you to consider how many customer service interactions you’ve personally experienced where you felt like the agent really connected with you. It’s probably not all that many.
Empathy is one of those things that everyone talks about, but no one actually has any real clue how to do it. It’s an abstract concept; some might even call it “mushy.” Companies may struggle to accurately define what empathy would look like, let alone to implement and measure it.
Sure, there are all kinds of resources online that describe how empathy is about “listening” and “relating” and “absorbing.” That’s all true, but how do you actually institutionalize and ensure the upkeep of empathy?
These are the types of discussions we have at Talkdesk. Our company makes enterprise cloud-based contact center software with an intuitive interface, advanced features and 25+ business tool integrations. The robust functionality we offer is world class, but, at this point, it doesn’t guarantee empathy in our users’ interactions with their customers.
But we’ve been thinking…
Maybe there’s something we can do to nudge our users in the right direction. When a customer and an agent are having a conversation on our platform, there might be ways for us to help inject empathy into that experience.
We’ve got a few things in the works. Stay tuned!