03 Apr Showing empathy
The showing of empathy is so important in delivering a positive customer experience. Customers (and colleagues) need you to understand: their situation, their needs, their priorities and their emotions.
But you don’t just need to understand, you need to show you understand, and this is the part that is sometimes challenging, especially when people are emotional. People need to feel you understand, and this is why simple empathy statements ( “I understand” ) sometimes don’t work: you need to show you understand as well as simply claiming it.
Many customers also want to feel that you care. This takes it a step further and crosses the line from empathy to sympathy:
- empathy = the ability to understand other’s feelings
- sympathy = sharing the feelings of others.
For many, this goes too far. Some service providers prefer to keep a ‘professional distance’, and for them demonstrating understanding is all that is required. It is undeniable, however, that some customer place value on the personal caring of service providers. At the very least, service providers should care about delivering a positive customer experience and in that sense should care about the customer’s emotions through the experience.
As with empathy, however, showing that you care often needs more then simply claiming it: you have to show it.
Showing empathy requires more than simple statements or claims and has to be demonstrated in your overall approach and throughout a conversation and/or longer relationship.
To build these deeper, stronger customer relationships, try to take empathy onto the emotional level – where you don’t just understand their situation or their practical needs, but you also understand their deeper emotions. This involves asking more questions about their emotions: “How do you feel about that?’ / “How did that make you feel?”.
Consistently demonstrating the above behaviours will demonstrate that you both understand and that you care, without the need for claims or justifications (which might be challenged or doubted). Showing empathy in this way will help to build trust, helping to build loyalty and deeper, stronger relationships.