Empathy for Call Center Agents: Importance & Improvement

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  • 0:03 Put Yourself in Their Shoes
  • 1:39 Empathy Essentials
  • 3:43 How to Improve Empathy
  • 6:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Empathy in a call center can not only improve a call but also improve a customer's overall experience. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the importance of empathy and some techniques for improving it.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

It's your first week in tech support for Triple E Electronics and you've just answered a call from a frustrated computer user who cannot get their computer and printer to communicate. They need to print a shipping label for an order in the next 30 minutes to meet the mailman and send out the customer's order.

What is your first reaction to this problem? Do you say to yourself:

  • That's easy to fix. What's this customer's deal?
  • Or: Why didn't they just restart both devices and try to reconnect?
  • Or do you say to the customer: That must be frustrating. Let me see how I can help.

As a tech support expert, you may not understand the frustration a customer feels when they can't get all of their devices communicating seamlessly. After all, you probably have a decent understanding of the hardware involved and probably even troubleshoot your own devices at home.

Sometimes it can be difficult to empathize with customers. In fact, many call center managers think agents either lack empathy, the ability to understand how someone else feels, or could improve upon it. And, it's easy to see why. Maybe you don't think a situation is as serious as a customer is making it out to be, or perhaps you know the solution to be so simple that they should have figured it out on their own.

However, empathy is one of the most important things you can deliver when dealing with a customer. Often, it's more important than the solution itself. Let's take a look at the reasons why.

Empathy Essentials

Empathy is a critical element to any relationship, including the one between a brand and its customers. Why? Well, a number of reasons:

1. Empathy helps deliver a positive customer experience.

When an agent can demonstrate understanding toward a frustrated or upset customer, even if the resolution isn't simple, the customer will remember the exchange and be grateful. That reflects well on you and your company.

2. Empathy helps diffuse volatile phone calls.

At the core of every customer interaction is the caller's need to be heard. When an agent can demonstrate genuine empathy to emotional callers, it can help a caller realize they have been listened to and a solution is on the way.

3. Empathy helps keep customers around longer.

Customers know when they're being treated with care and value, and it makes them want to do business with your company in the future. As a call center agent, you can be the difference between a customer abandoning a brand whose employees don't show empathy and becoming a loyal follower.

4. Empathy helps customers feel like more than a number.

Demonstrating empathy may be as simple as referring to a caller by name or sincerely acknowledging the frustration or anxiety a customer feels. Customers are just like you and can figure out pretty quickly whether an agent is being sincere or trying to rush them to get to the next call.

5. Empathy helps demonstrate sincerity.

Sincerity is simply the act of being genuine or real and is a vital trait in customer service because without it you come across as fake or unfeeling. You can deliver all the right words and fix all the problems, but insincerity will win you no points with your caller.

How to Improve Empathy

Since the concept of empathy is abstract, meaning you can't touch or see it, it may seem like it is a characteristic that you're either born with or not. However, empathy can be taught, enhanced, or honed to make a good customer service agent even better. Consider these action steps to help improve your own empathy:

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