How to diffuse potentially difficult customer service situations.
Showing empathy to customers takes more than words, it also takes imagination.
It’s not enough to utter a few well meant clichés, hoping this will placate an upset or angry customer. People working in customer service need to make the mental stretch and try to imagine what it is like to travel in the customer’s shoes.
When a customer is aggrieved or has had a negative experience, the most important thing for them is to feel that their point of view has been heard and understood.
The worst thing that can be done is to fob the customer off with a few pat expressions, or not take their grievance seriously at all.
Even if all the right things are being said, a poor tone of voice can result in poor customer service. Therefore it’s important that the customer can feel genuine sympathy when they speak to a customer service representative.
The customer might not always be right. Indeed, sometimes the customer may be very much in the wrong. For example, a missed payment on a credit card may have put an account into arrears, resulting in a declined purchase at a busy store. An embarrassing situation is the unhappy result.
Suddenly the customer calls in a rage, feeling humiliated. The job here is not to tell the customer that they are to blame for having missed making
the payment on time, but to try to understand their emotions and respond to them.
Often in this situation, where a late payment on an account has resulted in credit being abruptly cut off, the customer can feel belittled and reduced. These feelings need to be addressed, allowing the customer to feel like they have been heard and their negative experience is understood.
It takes character on the part of the service provider to keep calm when confronted with an angry customer. The very human response is to be
defensive, and return aggression with aggression. Employees need to be trained to control their emotions, to take a step back, breathe deeply, and let the unhappy customer get everything off his or her chest.
The three main points to remember when serving an angry or upset customer are:
– Listen quietly and carefully to their complaints, without interrupting.
– Remain polite and respectful, no matter how hostile the customer becomes.
– Maintain a sympathetic and even tone of voice. Never raise your voice.
In most circumstances, a customer who is rude but only receives civility and understanding in return, will find it difficult to keep up his or her aggressive behavior. It’s hard not to feel ill-mannered when you are continually being treated decently and with respect.
Empathy Statements for Customer Service Representatives
The following are helpful empathy statements that can be used to diffuse potentially explosive customer service situations.
“We always appreciate customers who take the time to give us their feedback. I’ll pass what you’ve said onto our management team.”
“Thanks for alerting us to the bad service you have received. What can I do to help fix the situation?”
“I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. I’d like to try and help.”
“I can completely understand. If that happened to me I’d be really upset too. I can imagine how frustrating that must be.”
“What’s happened to you is unacceptable and against company policy. Let me consult a supervisor to see if there is anything extra we can do to
“It’s perfectly understandable that you’re very upset about what’s happened.”
“The same thing happened to me only recently, so I can see why you’re angry. It’s a terrible inconvenience. Let me try and see what I can do to
rectify the problem.”
“We don’t like to see our customers upset and inconvenienced. We always strive to create a positive customer experience.”
Working with angry or upset customers requires a high sensitivity to other people’s feelings, even when the customer is in the wrong. By not taking abuse personally, taking a step back mentally, and striving to understand why a customer feels humiliated or wronged, a dissatisfied customer can be turned into a satisfied one.
About the Author
Chris Saliba is a freelance writer with 10 years experience in the financial services sector.
This helps a lot in terms of further explaining how to compose an empathy statement. Thanks !
Thanks for sharing. This is helpful.
Thank you for this. . .i learned a lot=]
Thanks for the helpful information.
It was a perfect head start….NICE & EASY
Thank you for this information. I really need this.
Very helpful! Thanks!
Thanks, I can assure this will help me a lot
Funny but some of the scripts are exactly the same to what we have in our RT. Lol
Fake empathy is detrimental on calls. Nothing frustrates me more than canned empathy. It’s not only insincere but insulting. A good customer service rep should be able to distinguish which interaction will benefit with empathy and the ones that dont. I have questioned hundreds of people over the years regarding this and the concensus is the majority of us could careless if the representative expresses concern. Just fix our issues without unnecessary drawn out empathize statements. Focus on the customer and what they’re calling in about. Quickly acknowledge the the concern, ensure the customer you will resolve the issue (insert a tiny sincere empathetic word or two) and respect the customers time. Today people are in a hurry so stop wasting our time. For the companies that insist on making empathy a grading metric stop it!!! Research not only mine but other sources indicate that over 85% of the people prefer to call and have a pleasant representative assist them in a timely fashion and most importantly one that will listen. I know out of experience that the stresses of ensuring that I gave empathize made it hard to listen carefully to the entirety of the call not just for queued to respond empathetically. I hope to change the industry’s perception of empathy and it’s benefits for two reasons. First for the customer stand point if it’s not sincere, dont bother. Lastly for the representative it creates a level of stress that distracts from their primary job duty of serving the customers’ needs.
Thank you for your time.
Customer service guru and all around great guy.
This is a big help! Thank you so much 🙂
Thank you for this info. Very helpful!
I have learned additional information about Customer Service. This is so helpful. Thank you so much.