Can you Teach Empathy to Your Customer Service Agents?

csutomer serviceEmpathy is one of the most important qualities to have in any office position where talking to customers is part of the role. Can empathy be taught agents who may not necessarily have it to begin with?

Why Customers Truly Reach Out For Service

Customers reach out when they have a problem, and believe it or not, most customers know that not all problems can be corrected. What a customer really wants is to be heard and to be understood.  Solutions are sometimes out of a customer service representative’s control. Empathy, however, is something that an agent can always provide.


The Value of Empathy

Exceptional customer service occurs when an agent shows the caller that they care about the outcome of the conversation. Even if a solution is beyond reach, a great agent listens to the entire problem, offers helpful suggestions that go beyond the obvious and expresses understanding for the caller’s frustration.


Empathy occurs when a rep simply puts themselves in the caller’s shoes. What does it feel like, for example, to be in the most important meeting of your career, only to find that your presentation software crashes upon opening?  Repeating that frustration and expressing an understanding of the caller’s feelings (as well as the problem itself), sets the tone for an empathetic interaction.


So, Can You Teach Empathy?

It is true, there are some people who are naturally empathetic, and there are others who seem to struggle with the concept. However, empathy is something that customer service agents can be taught. It’s all about seeing the problem through the customer’s eyes.


Make sure that every rep askes and confirms a customer’s name at the start of a call. As the customer describes their issue, agents should be taught never to interrupt.  Agents should also never begin a call by asking a customer if he or she consulted help articles first. In most cases, they have, and in most cases, they will tell the agent they have done so. Reps should always listen closely to the customer to see what methods they have tried before they picked up the phone.


Agents should also be taught to respond according to a caller’s tone. They should be able to tell just how angry, frustrated or stressed out a caller is. Simply saying, “If my software crashed in my most important meeting, I’d be extremely angry, too.”  If reps are forced to stick to a script, they cannot adjust their approach to the individual – and callers quickly pick up on that. The more natural the conversation, the better the experience will be. Agents need to be given the autonomy to control the call based upon the customer’s unique circumstances.


If you are looking for empathetic and effective customer service agents for your company, contact the call center recruiting experts at Contemporary Staffing Solutions today.   We can help you locate the right team members for you CSR team to help your customers feel understood.