Oftentimes, the difference between making a sale and losing a customer lies in whether or not the caller feels heard and understood. So it’s important for someone answering the phone at a business to practice empathy. This is done through honing our empathy skills. Empathy is the ability to deeply understand and respect another person’s feelings. It’s an important trait of day-to-day relationships and a powerful tool for company-customer relations. Most clients call when they are experiencing a problem they need fixed, so emotions can run high. This is where empathy comes in: the customer service representative must put themselves in the customer’s shoes and make them feel heard and understood.
Here are 5 ways to be more empathetic on inbound calls.
- Imagine yourself in the caller’s position.
Acknowledging someone’s feeling is the first, crucial, step toward empathy. Once the reason for their distress is recognized, take a second to imagine yourself from their perspective. Say things like, “I would feel the same way in your position,” or “I’d find this frustrating as well.” This helps them feel like you’re on their side and consider their feelings valid.
- Accept that their interpretation of a situation is a fact for them.
Difficult emotions, especially stress, can feel like facts when we’re presented with them — whether or not we’re being rational. Understanding this, without judgement, is another crucial component to being empathetic with callers. Once we’ve established that, for them, what they’re feeling is valid and true, we can better reach them in determining how to help. Never question their story or argue. They wouldn’t be calling about your services if they didn’t feel their situation truly warranted it.
- Always learn the caller’s name.
Using and remembering a customer’s name creates a positive ripple effect. In fact, it should be the first thing you ask. Callers immediately feel like they’re speaking with someone who values them as an individual and can be trusted with their care. Make sure to write it down at the beginning of the call so you don’t forget — repeatedly asking a customer’s name has the opposite effect.
- Pause before responding.
There is no way you can deal with others’ emotions if you aren’t able to handle your own. As someone whose role is to help others, maintaining composure is paramount. The best way to ensure this is to always pause before responding, especially in emotionally charged situations. Remember — the way you respond may cost you a customer. And no matter how angry or upset the caller is, keep in mind: it’s not about you.
- Acknowledge the caller’s feelings.
Even if you’re having a hard time putting yourself in the caller’s position, you can still flex your empathy muscle by simply acknowledging their feelings. In this way, you let them know that you’ve been listening to them and value their story and time. Use phrases like “what I’m hearing is that you’re frustrated that X” or simply “thank you for telling me about your frustration.” We can’t do anything about their negative feelings, but we can turn it around and try to make the situation more positive.
Strong empathy skills are as valuable in business as they are in personal relationships. Keep the tips above in mind when answering the phone for your business, and you’ll be able to deal with even the toughest caller.
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