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THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPATHY IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

empathy in customer service

empathy in customer service

Customer service is the process of providing services to customers. In general, empathy improves the quality of customer service because it establishes a connection or bond between the customer and the employee.

Offering great customer service is no longer just a nice touch— it is fast becoming the key differentiator between business success and failure. Luckily, today’s companies can harness their power by developing one important trait – empathy.

Maintain this level of understanding for your customer and your chances of ending each conversation on a positive note will increase.

When you consider that 89% of companies compete on the quality of customer service alone, the impact of empathy becomes a clear differentiator. It can be the important difference between a positive and a negative peak; a loyal customer, or a competitor’s gain.

Empathy is Customer Service

You can spend all day talking with customers who have had problems with the company. Some of their problems may or may not have a resolution, but you can always show empathy. In doing so you:

  • Help the customer feel heard
  • Acknowledge their feelings
  • Provide a good experience

Without empathy, the interaction can be cold and off-putting to customers, thus increasing the conflict.

Think of frontline customer service teams. Even in the best of times, it’s hard to keep up the optimistic, empathetic, and professional tone customers expect. Customer service teams are called upon to communicate with empathy all day, every day.

Customer service challenges amplify during times of crisis or uncertainty, as customers may need payment grace periods or policy exceptions for returns. No matter their requests, customers are counting on empathy, and they reward personal interactions that help them feel respected and understood.

Customer empathy can make a real difference during difficult times

People yearn for their needs to be considered and understood, especially during times of upheaval like we’re experiencing now. Agents will be dealing with customers that have lost their jobs, businesses, and even their loved ones. In difficult circumstances, even minor situations carry a much heavier weight.

As a company, you have the power to make a positive difference in your customer’s day, and in turn, create a loyal customer for life. Remember that one small act of goodwill can start a movement. And all it takes is a little empathy.

Credits: Dixa; Study.com

Descriptive- showing a female employee attending to a young customer

How to Create a Team of Customer-Focused Employees

customer-focused employee

customer-focused employee

There is no magic formula for creating a team of customer-focused employees. But one thing is certain: it’s the manager’s responsibility to create an environment that motivates employees to want to take care of customers. To create a team of employees that are personally committed to service excellence, managers may need a fresh point of view. One of the great problems in customer service is the reluctance of managers to view service as a marketing strategy. Too many see it as an after-sale service related to a previous sale, rather than ahead of the next one. Studies prove that great service is more effective at increasing profits than marketing or advertising.

The following conditions need to be met for creating customer-focused teams:

Management Commitment

Replace lip service with words and actions that consistently show employees that management is committed to the delivery of exceptional customer service. Staff meetings should focus more on meeting the needs of the customer than meeting the needs of the manager.

Employee Involvement

Listen to employee ideas. Sam Walton said, “Listen to everyone in your company, especially the ones who actually talk to customers. They know what’s going on out there.” Implement realistic, creative ideas that benefit the customer. No matter how far removed employees are from the front line, they need to believe that their work affects the customer perceptions of the company.

Policies That Benefit The Customer

Evaluate existing policies and rules to see if they are really necessary. Who benefits from them? How much do they damage customer relationships? How often are they bent or broken by managers?  If a policy needs to be in place, make sure that every employee on the team understands the reasons behind it. Trust employees. Give employees the ability and power to do the right thing for the customer–right away. Don’t undermine an employee by overriding their decision to help the customer.

Shared Customer Feedback

Everyone on the team needs to hear from the customers. Share customer satisfaction survey results. Read letters and comments from customers during staff meetings. Encourage the team to come up with a list of open-ended questions they can ask customers regularly to invite feedback and ideas for improving service. A quality service program will come to a screeching halt without management commitment, employee involvement and constant reinforcement. You know you’re part of a customer-focused team when the most important question on the mind of managers and employees alike is, “How can I do my work in a way that will delight the customer?”

Internal Customer Service

Create a “we’re in this together” environment. Help your employees to recognize that everyone in the company is one big team. Meet with other departments regularly to build understanding and collaboration between work teams. Set ground rules that simply do not tolerate gossip. Redirect employees who complain by challenging them to come up with solutions to problems.

Employee Training

View training as an investment, not a cost. This can be an investment in both customer and employee retention. Training employees is an investment in sales and marketing. It is also an investment in quality. Training must be a priority and an ongoing reinforcement of the customer focus. Provide training that equips employees with the skills and tools they need to deliver exceptional customer service.

Credit: Loyalty Leader® Inc

ETHICS OR PROFIT (What to do when you are in the line of fire)?

The race to make money is more heated than ever as a direct response to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 lockdown last year. Corporations and SMEs seem to be more concerned with ROI than customer satisfaction, and the old argument between ethics and profits has become a daily struggle for managers.

 

Ethics And Profit

Ethics is a system of moral principles that guides a person or business’s behaviour or way of conducting activities. While, profit is simply the net revenue generated by a business enterprise minus the cost of production.

 

While profit is the main motive behind any business venture, the matter of ethics will more definitely determine the long-term profitability of that venture. If you sacrifice customers’ satisfaction, excellence, and integrity for profit, you will end up losing more. Because when people do business with you, they are indirectly signifying their trust and endorsement of your services. Satisfied customers are the best form of free promotions and referrals.

 

 What To Do

Sometimes the lines gets so blurred that as a manager you get confused on which path to follow. In times like this, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the company’s mission statement and values?
  • Do they align with the decision you are about to make?
  • What is the company culture? Or what is the company protocol concerning matters like this?
  • What is more important to the company, profit or image?
  • Is there a solution that can satisfy both the client and the company without incurring unnecessary expenses?
  • Do you need to consult your superior before making a decision?
  • Would you be satisfied with your decision and be able to defend it later?
  • Do you have proper documentation for all the processes and activities leading up to your decision?

Once you answer all these questions satisfactorily, then go ahead and make your decision. Doing what is right for the business all the time is not an easy task, it requires intelligence, corporate awareness, grit and experience. If you succeed in making the right decision, the rewards will be worth the stress.

Ethics may cost you more in production, but it will bring you more in long term profit.