So yesterday I am cruising down the hallway and turn the corner to almost collide with someone walking with a cane. I immediately apologized with great embarrassment and sincerity. She snapped back "People around here don't realize how difficult they make it for me." My first thought was, "I'm not sure what to do with that statement, I offered my sincere apology." And as we both moved down the hall in opposite directions I realized that I should have offered an empathetic statement like: "Yes, I can see how that would be a challenge, I am sorry sorry I cut that corner short." I just missed my opportunity to show her I cared.
Too often our representatives jump right to problem resolution and miss that great opportunity to show customers that they care. Empathy is not easy or natural for most of us, if it were we would all have much better relationships with everyone in our life. Here are 3 steps to start your team on their way to more natural displays of empathy:
- Create 2-3 empathy scripts for your customer service reps that will cover the most common problems shared by customers. Keep it simple and fairly generic. These are their practice scripts. Yes, you are going to let them practice on real customers. And it is true that these might feel a little scripted to your customers, but it is better to have scripted empathy than nothing at all. With practice it will become more natural and feel more heartfelt to your customers.
- Have your representatives use the practice scripts on EVERY CALL where a customer shares a problem for one full week. I do mean EVERY CALL. You need to create the beginning of a habit. It is also important that your reps start to experience the incredible positive change in the conversations when empathy is expressed, which will happen as they start sounding more comfortable and sincere.
- After the first week, encourage your team to start personalizing their empathy statements. You might create a share board where your representatives can start posting scenarios and the associated empathy statement they have used to personalize the experience. Take your queue from Face Book and give rewards or recognition for those that get the most "likes" from their team mates.