How to win your customers with empathy

Miruna Mitranescu

Successfully building rapport with customers over the phone is so important to providing a good service or increasing sales.

Whether customers calls over a problem, a complaint or an enquiry, your job is to make them feel heard, respected and understood.

Empathy is essential to human interactions. Acknowledging customer concerns is empathy.

Managers need to constantly remind their team to imagine themselves in the customer’s shoes, in order to be able to make the customer’s problems their own, and meet their expectations.

win your customers with empathy - how to

What is empathy?

Researchers define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

Studies suggest that people can enhance (or restrict) their natural empathic abilities.

Contemporary researchers often differentiate between two types of empathy:

“Affective empathy” refers to the sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions.

“Cognitive empathy,” sometimes called “perspective taking,” refers to our ability to identify and understand other peoples’ emotions.

Cognitive empathy is the side that interests us today.

Empathy comes in handy when dealing with customers, especially if they have a problem, a complain or a discontent, but – and that’s the beauty of it -not only! Empathy is useful in any human interaction.

Phrases That Convey Empathy to Customers

It’s often challenging to help customers who are lost in emotions and seem unable to be receptive. What should you say to customers who express discontent or are downright angry? This situation can sometimes be scary.

Here are some key phrases to tell your customers in order to make a first step in assuring them that you are taking the problem very seriously:

  • “I can understand how frustrating it is when…”
  • “I realize how complicated it is to…”
  • “I imagine how upsetting it is to…”
  • “I know how confusing it must be when…”
  • “I’m so sorry to hear that…”

Use empathy to win your customers

You can drastically improve the customer experience by taking a few seconds to build rapport by simply expressing genuine empathy.

1. Listen carefully

Be a good a listener and try to repeat what the customer says to assure them that you are listening.

2. Smile

Sounds cheesy but smile when talking to customers. They will feel it in your voice.

3. Make it your problem

Take ownership of the enquiry, especially if it is a complaint. Have a one-to-one relationship with your customer so that they have a point of contact that they can come back to.

4. Allow them to ‘get it all out’

When the customer is angry, allow them to vent without interruption. Use this time to figure out what you can do to fix their issue.

5. Be respectful

Make sure you talk to the customer with respect and in common language. Never talk down to the customer or talk over them.

6. See it through their eyes

Share your customers perspectives.

7. Understand their priorities

Every customer, particularly in an emergency situation, will have a list of priorities. Make them your priorities too and address them in the right order (mirroring them). This will reassure the customer that you know what they want and are taking care of them.

8. Show that you care

You can build rapport by showing a personal interest in the customer. For example, if a customer says they have been sick, show that you care by asking them about the recovery.

9. Begin with a positive statement

If the customer has spent some time explaining a frustrating problem, then beginning your response with a short, direct statement of intent can gain his confidence.

Something like “Okay, we can fix this…” or “Right, let’s get this problem sorted for you…” will reassure the customer that you are taking ownership of the problem.

10. Avoid assumptions

Don’t make assumptions about what the customer is telling you – actively listen!

How do you feel about empathy? Do you have any tactics of your own to win customers?

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