23 Jun Using Empathy in Customer Service
It might seem obvious to listen to a customer’s complaint about your product or service, but it may also be the last thing you or your team really want to do. No one likes to listen to complaints, and some customers may become agitated and difficult to deal with. However, dealing with customer complaints is a part of every business, and is an essential skill for all team members to have. Like all skills however….it must be trained and practised and by doing so staff will become really good at dealing with issues when they arise.
Develop a Relationship
Helping customers with complaints is where you and your team can really develop a relationship with clients, and even create customer loyalty. If you can inspire your customer service team to really empathise with your customers and really make them feel like they’ve been heard, you can turn what may have been a bad experience into a good experience.
The most difficult part of Communication is listening- yet it is the most effective element of making a customer feel heard. Acknowledging that the Customer is upset, angry or at least dissatisfied is important. Really listen deeply to what it is the customer is unhappy with and only when the customer is finished should we then summarise what it is you have heard the customer say. Very often, once the customer feels that their story is heard, they are at the beginning of a position where we can now recover the situation and work towards a solution which is fair. Empathetic listening when practised well can have a very positive impact on the customer who has a complaint and can save the business a lot of money.
Train and Empower
Too often, really good staff are not empowered to make decisions which would allow them to fix a problem at the point of first contact. “I’ll have to see my manager about that” is often the line. Dealing with customer complaints is about changing the culture. Train and then empower your staff. This will save valuable time and money in the longer term. The reality is that customer service WILL break down. In Disney, the great example of excellent customer service, it is said that customer service breaks down every 19 minutes. The Art of service recovery is something that every business should have in place. Well trained staff who are capable of dealing with issues when they arise are invaluable to the business. Allowing them the parameters to fix the problem and satisfy the customer complaint, where possible, will create a competitive advantage.
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