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The Essential Guide to Customer Empathy for Customer Success Managers

customer empathy

Humans want human contact – it’s textbook. We always lookout for someone who is empathetic towards us. People say that empathy is an innate quality and cannot be taught or transferred. But that is not entirely true, it can be learned in life through experiences. In a customer success space, customer empathy is a critically important term in its vocabulary. This guide ahead will walk you through the detailed ‘nitty-gritty’ of this subject.

  • What is Customer Empathy?
  • Categories of Customer Empathy
  • How to identify an empathy problem? 
  • How to sow the seeds of Empathy?
  • 6 tips on developing better empathetic skills 

What is Customer Empathy?

Simply put, this term refers to truly understanding and feeling the pain points of a client. It is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your clients and get their perspective. The facets that drive customer service failures have one thing in common – lack of empathy.

There is a hair-line difference between being empathetic and being docile to your customers. It does not mean you agree to all that your client has to say. Simply put, it means you understand what they are trying to say and understand the truth.

This is an important facet for support agents to have. It is because they talk to different sorts of clients every day, and resolve their issues. All the while making sure that they are putting the company in a green light, whenever needed.

Categories of Customer Empathy

  • Affective Empathy: It is the ability to understand another person’s emotions and respond appropriately. They can easily feel others’ pain within themselves when seeing others scared or in pain.
  • Cognitive Empathy: With cognitive empathy, you are trying to tap into the idea of placing yourself in someone else’s situation and gaining a better understanding of their experience.
  • Emotional Empathy: Emotional empathy is where you can feel the same emotion as the other person. Aside from this, you can feel compassionate toward the other person.

How to identify an empathy problem? 

How do you know if you are sounding good to your customer? Is interaction with your team really solving the client’s query? Here are some of the classic signs that show you that you might have an empathy issue at hand:

  • Lack of instant responses
  • Tone mismatch between the agent and the customer. Say, one could be too professional and the other party, not so much.
  • No or late follow-ups
  • Constant call transfers without much explanation
  • Lack of active listening
  • Cross talks or disallowing the client to finish speaking

If these are some of the signs that are happening around, there is a good chance a customer might churn away. Or most importantly, they can switch to your competition which can make you sadder.

Not everybody is lucky enough to be born with a capacity for endless empathy. But the good news is, empathy, like any other skill, can be learned.

How to sow the seeds of Empathy

How to sow the seeds of Empathy?

  • Understand your customer: For starters, you need to figure out who your customers are and what your product or service means to them. In the context of their educational background, age, company, organization structure, etc, you can bridge the gap and cultivate empathy.
  • Solicit feedback from your peers: Begin with rather open-ended questions. Some of which could include, ‘According to you, what could ameliorate this conversation?’ If your customers complain about not being heard or respected, then you know that it is an empathy problem. Refrain from doing so.
  • Imbue Positivity: It is crucially important to be positive around your customers. Treat the last customer with the same energy as you treated the first one. Stay affirmative and motivated.
  • Practice the subtle art of teaching: For this, you can begin with something simple. You can teach a kid to swim, or a friend how to play guitar. Teaching demands a lot of patience and perseverance. This art will help you build empathy.

6 tips on developing better empathetic skills 

  • Smile: Yes, putting up a smile on your face is a key ingredient for a healthy conversation. If you see a client who smiles at you, smile back. Smile is contagious, as they say. However, do not fake it. A fake put-on smile is easily noticed. Instead, have a genuinely happy grin.
  • Tone: The tone of your voice makes a lot of difference. The manner in which you speak or empathize matters eventually. Suggestion: Match the volume and tone to the person you are talking to. However, when a person is indignant, moderate your tone, rather than matching it.
  • Emotions: Pay extra heed to the person’s emotional stance. It is possible that your customer could be disheartened or mad about some personal issues. Identity what the other person is feeling. Our brain is built in a manner to accurately assess emotions. So trust your gut instincts and go with it.
  • Behavior: Body postures or the way you behave say a lot about you. Most of all human communication is nonverbal body language. We use it to communicate our feelings and intentions. To communicate empathy take an open posture – face forwards, legs and arms uncrossed, leaning toward someone.
  • Listening: Practice the art of active listening. Pay attention to the client’s issue. Ask him questions about what is going on and how can you help. Identify his emotions. Match your tones. And Respond with umpteen compassion. You will soon see how you find the conversation de-escalate quickly when you follow these right.
  • Respect: Always be respectful and cordial to your clients. Greet the customer with their name. It’s easy to forget manners when the conversation is taking a bad turn and has been going on for a long time. Even as you are standing up for yourself, remember to not put them down.

Final Thoughts

It is a given that empathy flows from the top down. Empathy and freedom go hand in hand. If you lead a company or manage a team, encourage your support agents to break rules now and then to do what is right for the customer.

Customer empathy ensures that your customers stick around more often. You may not deliver the right answer to a customer, but you can always deliver a beautiful interaction. And in the end, making your clients happy is all that matters.

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