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  • Writer's pictureKirk Dunn

4 Ways Agents Can Leverage Empathy To Build Better Customer Relationships

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Empathy is key to quickly and efficiently addressing the concerns of upset clients and building the rapport essential to achieving top-quality customer service.

Here are four guideposts your call center agents can follow to stay on track in delivering an outstanding customer experience:

1. Be compassionate: acknowledge the emotion you hear.

For an upset or frustrated client, saying “I can understand that would be frustrating. Let me see what I can do” will make the person feel heard, help them calm down, and is a good solid step toward building rapport.

And when positive emotions are involved, we can strengthen our connection with the caller with a simple “Congratulations!” or “You must be thrilled!”. This sort of empathy makes the client feel acknowledged, important and rewarded.

With positive emotions, empathy can build the kind of customer relationship that makes people think of your company in a promoter fashion.

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2. Be genuine: don’t read from a script.

It’s tempting to have some rehearsed empathetic statements ready to go if they’re needed, but unfortunately, they run the risk of sounding disingenuous. The phrase, “I apologize for the inconvenience,” for example, has been used by customer service reps so often it has been robbed of virtually all meaning.

It’s best to have your call center agent respond as specifically as possible by reflecting back the words the customer uses. Something like “Yes. I hear you: you’ve called four times, and now you’re pretty upset.”

3. Listen for clues.

A caller may not sound annoyed, but are they relating an experience that clearly involved some degree of frustration? If the call is about something as simple as a password reset, we can safely assume that the customer has already made a number of failed attempts, tried to remember the password, searched for where they may have written it down, and are likely dialing in as a last resort.

4. Apologize: it costs you nothing.

Just because your call center agent apologizes, it doesn’t mean they’re admitting culpability. A quick “I’m sorry that happened,” can go a long way to making a caller feel heard and understood and in no way shoulders the blame for the issue at hand.

The path followed by a conversation with an emotional customer can be tricky and circuitous. By keeping these empathy guideposts in sight, your call center agent will have an easier time reaching their destination: a top-notch customer experience.

VEREQUEST is a consulting firm specializing in driving and sustaining the quality of the customer experience in the contact center environment. We help our clients, each a leading organization in N.A., to strive to win the hearts and loyalty of customers through a wide range of proprietary tools and techniques.

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