Updated: Jul 21, 2020
You are a customer service representative approaching the end of your eight-hour shift. Rest is on the horizon; you can taste your next meal, feel the relief of changing out of your uniform. Just as you wrap up for the day, you encounter the most cantankerous customer ever! Their tone is all wrong, they aren't satisfied with the product, the cow jumped over the moon. It seems that this one inconvenience unraveled their entire day. What do you do? Politely pass them on to another representative that has more than thirty minutes to spare in their shift or steal this trick to make your customer happy?
At this point, most persons would have passed this customer on like a hot baton in a relay race. These persons, however, aren't privy to this quick trick that when used correctly, de-escalates most aggravated customers within minutes. What could be so simple but seems to evade those in the customer service field repeatedly? Empathy!
Empathy? What is it and what does it have to do with this scenario? Miriam-Webster defines empathy as 'the action of understanding... and vicariously experiencing the feelings..of another without having the experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner'. In layman's terms, truly understanding what someone is going through without having gone through it with them.
How could having empathy change this scenario? To have empathy, you first have to actively listen to your customer. For example, the cow did not jump over the moon, but rather the customer was trying to explain that they'd searched for this product at several locations and after finally tracking it down at your store, was disappointed to find the seal broken.
After listening, the empathetic customer service representative with twenty-nine minutes to spare in their shift would then apologize for the inconvenience that this must of cost the customer and then provide the solution of locating either a replacement from storage, calling ahead to other locations to confirm if it is in stock or speaking with management to offer the customer a discount to encourage retention of a valued client.
Just as you can picture yourself at the end of your shift and anticipate the feelings thereafter, picture the frustration of your customer and understand how you would feel if you were in their shoes. I guarantee this trick will make your customers happy and leave you with time to spare.