Empathy and building rapport with your customer

How can you teach your staff to show empathy to your customers?
Charlotte Turner
Head of Client Delivery‍
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

How can you teach your staff to show empathy to your customers? It’s such a key skill for a Contact Centre agent. The language that we use is really important, using positive words and phrases helps the way the customer feels.

First of all, what is the difference between empathy and sympathy? When I’ve been in training sessions with contact centre staff its always been one of the things that gets the most discussion. Sympathy being when you share the feelings of another, empathy being when you understand the feelings of another but do not necessarily share them.

“Empathy without sympathy is dangerous; sympathy without empathy is blind”

Active listening is vital, listening and hearing are very different things. Agents need to listen to what the customer is telling them, thank them for sharing the information. If they aren’t clear on something, then ask open questions to support the conversation and to make sure they really understand the problem. It’s important to listen to how the customer is feeling, its usually quite obvious when someone is angry but other emotions aren’t always so clear over the phone. Maintaining a positive, calm attitude and state of mind throughout the call helps to establish a good rapport. Be friendly, polite and courteous at all times. Be sincere and think of your main objective as generating trust with the customer when you have no body language or other visual clues to help you.

Be adaptable throughout the conversation, there is no one size fits all approach. Adapting your speech to your customer, if your customer speaks slowly the agent must slow down their pace so the customer can take in what they are being told. Use the same words that the customer uses. Saying the customer’s name helps, it gets their attention and makes your interest in them valid.  

Ensuring your agents are confident in their product knowledge is key as well, if they aren’t it can lead to those awkward silences, pauses or even being put on hold and transferred between departments. Agents must position themselves as experts, explain what they can do for them or when they may need to escalate something to get the right authority.  

Agents should take ownership of the situation and follow it through until resolved, where possible of course. This really helps them to build rapport with your customer. The aim of the call is to resolve the situation, don’t get bogged down in the detail of the problem too much, focus on the outcome.

If you want to know how TieTa can help you get the very best in Contact Centre Support, get in touch with us at contact@TieTa.co.uk  

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