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Call center agents have many problems to solve throughout the day, making it a challenge to go above and beyond with each interaction. The data proves it:
But how can a busy agent manage to wow every customer when so many resolutions are more or less the same? The solution isn’t to break the mold with new resolution methods. Rather, you can make a customer feel special by using one simple method: speak to your customers with empathy.
Use the following empathy phrases and words to make a customer feel like a valued individual, rather than just another number in your queue.
In How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age, Dale & Associates point out the transformative power you have over people when you focus on what’s right with someone instead of what’s wrong. As it’s so eloquently stated in the book:
We’re not suggesting you say something that isn’t true—complimenting someone for being patient when they have been nothing but pushy can come off as condescending or mocking.
Rather, try to figure out what the customer is doing that you like. It could be something as simple as complimenting their name or fun email address. Perhaps they purchased your favorite product, and you’d like to congratulate them on their good taste.
Use the lines below, and you’ll be tapping into that part of your customer that wants to feel just a bit more appreciated:
1. I see you’ve been with [Company Name] for X years. That’s a long time!
2. I appreciate your patience.
3. Thank you for remaining so positive.
4. Your business means a lot to us.
5. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
In How to Win Friends & Influence People, the author encourages you to use this simple, yet effective line:
It’s a powerful little hack that can actually get you in an empathetic mindset.
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UCLA neurologist and neuroscientist Marco Lacoboni suggests in his book, Mirroring People, that we don’t have to waste our time wondering what people mean based on their behavior. Instead, he believes that we automatically relate to one another by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, or as he explains it:
If he’s correct, then all you need to do is remind yourself that you know what the customer is going through to put yourself in their shoes. Every customer service agent is also a customer, after all. The following examples of empathy statements will connect you to and reassure your customer:
6. If I were in your position, I would feel the same way.
7. That would frustrate me, too.
8. I would be asking the same questions as you are.
9. You are totally right.
10. I would come to the same conclusion.
Using a positive and gentle tone can help make your customer feel at ease. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to convey tone if you aren’t face to face with a customer.
Try using lines like:
11. Personally, I would recommend you to…
12. Would you like to try our new X?
13. You can consider X.
14. You might find X helpful.
15. I think you’ll find it’s much easier if you do X.
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As Dale Carnegie and Associates point out:
A shift from stating facts to inviting customers into conversations can make a huge difference in your customer relations. After all, customers don’t always want you to list what their options are like you’re some sort of customer service robot – they want to feel valued enough to be a part of the process.
Part of being empathetic is understanding how to balance two sides of the customer service equation: while people are looking to you for guidance as a customer service agent, they also want their individuality and opinions to be respected. You can also think of this as being assertive with your customer, rather than aggressively steering the conversation, or passively allowing the customer to sit in indecisiveness.
Make sure that your customer is onboard with your resolution by asking questions like:
16. What can I do to make your experience with us better?
17. What would be the best-case scenario for you?
18. Is there anything else, big or small, that I can help you with today?
19. How do you feel about X?
20. Are your X needs being met with our product/service?
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All of us go on autopilot at some point or another. You can see it in a teenager who immediately rolls her eyes when her parents ask her to clean up her room, or hear it in the annoyed grunt issued by a customer when he is told he needs to call a different department to resolve his issue.
Call center agents have their own unique triggers. And as you may have already guessed, automatic reactions are not in the best interest of speaking with empathy – as soon as we’re on autopilot, we lose the empathetic connection we have worked so hard to establish.
Common triggers may include:
Use the empathetic statements below to slow down and restate the customer’s concern. Doing so will pull you back into the moment, and will help you remember what’s unique about your customer’s situation.
21. If I’m understanding you correctly…
22. So what you’re saying is…
23. Did you mean to tell me X?
24. Let me know if I’m getting the story right…
25. What you’re saying is…
According to Software Advice, a tech firm that reviews live chat software, 65% of customers prefer speaking in a casual to formal tone, so it’s important that you’re not overly formal. Customers want to know and feel that agents are people just like them – and what greater form of empathy is there than the golden rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated.
In this case, speak to customers the way you would like to be spoken to. In order to speak more casually, try using:
Use the following words and lines as examples if you feel like your statements are a little too stuffy:
26. Thanks for waiting this out.
27. I’d love to help you with that.
28. Give me just a minute/second while I figure this out for you.
29. That’s awesome/great!
30. I can fix that.
Make sure to use a casual tone in the right customer service context. Go too casual at the wrong time, and you may come across as unprofessional or inconsistent with your company’s brand.
Sometimes you might feel your empathy slip, but remember that every person you interact with is unique and important. Use these phrases next time you feel uninspired, and notice how much easier it is to engage with empathetic words.
What do you think of the above phrases? What are your current go-to empathy statements and questions? Let us know in the comments below!
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