customer empathy

How to win your customers with empathy

Miruna MitranescuLast updated on January 2, 2024
3 min

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Successfully building a rapport with customers over the phone is very important to providing a good service or increasing sales. Whether customers call about a problem or complaint, your job is to make them feel heard, respected and understood. Acknowledging customer concerns shows empathy and understanding, and is essential to great communication and great service.

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

What is an Empathy Statement?

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

Studies also show that these skills can be learned, and therefore people can increase or restrict their natural empathic abilities. An empathy statement is simply using these skills when talking and interacting with others.

Contemporary researchers often differentiate between two types of empathy:

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

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

When it comes to sales and customer service, cognitive empathy plays a huge role. Dealing with customers, especially if they have a problem or complaint, can be solved much faster and easier by using empathetic statements, being patient, and showing consideration.

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 unhappy or even downright angry? While this situation can sometimes be scary, there are great many ways to address your customer concerns and questions.

Here are some key phrases to help assure your customers that you’re taking their problem 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 statements to win customers

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

1. Listen carefully

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

2. Smile

It may sound cheesy, but smiling when talking to customers can make a huge difference. It comes across over the phone and they will feel it in your voice.

3. Make it your problem

Take ownership of the customer’s questions, 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. Listen to the person carefully while using the time to figure out what you can do to fix their issue.

5. Be respectful

Make sure you talk to the customer with respect. Never talk down to the customer or talk over them. Approach it like a regular, professional conversation and they will appreciate you for it.

6. See it through their eyes

Share your customers perspectives and try to see what their struggling with and why. What is their end goal, and what can you do to help them achieve it?

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 their 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 their 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? Let us know!

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Published on April 7, 2016.

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