5 fun ways to build empathy in customer service teams
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Customer contact reps and leaders have been pursuing new ways to deliver empathy in customer services or “service with a smile” that customers can experience via phone calls.
93% of customers will likely make repeat purchases with companies that integrate empathy in customer services and experiences.
Notwithstanding, AI, chatbots, and automation are meeting fundamental customer requirements. Therefore, today customer service agents are left with a burning question to address and solve, making empathy in customer service even more challenging.
In parallel, an influx of customer service outsource calls and chats amplifies brand risk that lacks empathy in customer services. But the silver lining amidst the risk is the creation of unique opportunities that can deepen customer loyalty by solving customer problems driven with care and helps to drive empathy in customer service.
Why is empathy important in customer service?
A company with robust internal culture that maintains empathy in customer service has an average 13.9 turnover rate.
Empathy in customer service and commercial success are directly proportional. Businesses will have higher chances of churning more profitability and productivity when they act ethically, treat their staff well, and communicate with empathy to their customers. Thus, resulting in trust and brand loyalty which is a very foundation of empathy in customer services.
The goal is to make the target persona realize that your business offers consistent and excellent empathy in customer service at every touch point so they can keep coming back for more. Having said that, empathy in customer service sits at the core of customer experience strategy. It must showcase that persona’s feelings, situations, and motives are acknowledged.
Subsequently resulting in higher profits and an improved brand reputation for the business.
Suppose you are serious about injecting empathy into your customer experience solutions. In that case, you should make specific and tangible moves toward training your workforce to embrace empathy as part of their work culture, and you should make them exercise empathy instead of just talking about it.
Brands recognize that they must stand for a higher purpose than just selling. They know they need to connect with their buyers in new ways that imparts empathy in customer services and prove that maintaining a relationship with them is worthwhile.
After all, today’s consumers are often savvier and more skeptical than ever— and they’ve been through quite a lot lately and the fundamental reason behind is the lack of empathy in customer services.
As a result, your customers have little patience for false promises. To succeed with them, you must show genuine empathy in customer services — long-term and at scale.
And to do that, you need to know the people you are doing business with and understand what they need, moment to moment. And the only way to get intimate with them is by inculcating empathy exercises for customer services.
How do you practice empathy in customer service?
If you search this question, I bet you can find an ‘N’ number of generic ways to integrate empathy in customer service. You will find a standard list of hows and to-do’s invariably in every blog post.
But empathy in customer services isn’t something that can be replicated by just reading. It demands a more tactical approach, i.e., the design of customer empathy-centric experiences where employees become the customer.
As the adage goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ Sometimes we create solutions and generate ideas to address our pain points. Interestingly, empathy in customer services becomes necessity and drives us to think outside the box in this customer-centric world.
Empathy is sine-non-qua when it boils down to practical customer service exercises. It is the main engine that helps you get past creative breakthroughs and we can only guarantee their loyalty towards us if we understand the nuances of empathy in customer services.
How do you show empathy to customers?
Much reliance on digital technologies has resulted in AI-centric customer service and absence of empathy in customer services. The downside of the algorithmic convention is that it has acted as a proxy for an engaging customer service that lacks in empathy.
At ground zero, one must understand that empathy is an opportunity to listen with an open mind. First and foremost, you must be able to demonstrate compassion for what your customers are going through. Then the problem resolution comes into the picture keeping empathy in customer service intact. We may not be able to solve every problem, but the least we can do is show empathy and compassion and striving for empathy in customer services can set you apart from your competitors at every stage.
In a nutshell, we can always be there for each other, notwithstanding the challenges of empathy in customer services.
Your target personas don’t want to feel like another lead on your “dialing for dollars” list. By rewiring your approach for empathy in customer services, you’ll better serve your persoans with empathy.
Empathy may be a soft skill, but it is crucial to a business’s success and superior customer experience solutions.
Below, we have compiled a list of 5 fun empathy exercises for customer services that your teams can play to develop a positive rapport. These empathy activities are better than reading volumes of books because they are fun, easy, and practical to apply empathy in customer services.
Empathy Exercises to Help Your Customer Service Team Hone Their Empathy Acumen
#1. Conduct Mock Empathy Drills
If you can conduct mock fire drills to prepare your office staff against an imaginative inferno, you can run mock empathy drills.
Divide your contact center teams into groups of 2–5 and give them a service prompt. Remember the famous show What Would You Do? on ABC network? Create mock emergency customer situations like in that show and see how your customer service staff react to them.
Here are a few examples of how to come up with service prompts:
– “You receive an angry call from Sarah, a customer, who’s threatening to sue your company for cheating her $25 in payment.”
– “You have ten hate mails from Murray, who claims to be a member of a Neo-Nazi group, threatening you of dire consequences if you don’t give him a refund within 24 hours.”
– “Colin, a 10-year-old customer from Burlington, has sent you a heartfelt greeting card thanking you for the free $10 gift card you sent him on Christmas.”
Create mock situations like these and let your service teams react to their respective prompts in the most empathetic manner possible. Celebrate the best ideas and discuss them with the team to encourage similar behavior for empathy in customer services.
#2. Play empathy bingo
I bet your contact center reps are going to love this one when it comes to empathy in customer services.
First, you will need a bingo expert to get the basics of preparing bingo cards right. Next, create as many bingo cards as the number of service reps in your team. Now, assign (~say, 20 or 40) empathy statements to numbers across the bingo cards.
The participating reps can cross out the number mapped to the respective empathy statement every time they use it with a customer. The rule is that they can’t use the sentence to win the game. They must use it meaningfully in a natural context.
The first agent to complete their cards in a straight row — either across or down — wins. Award them a handsome prize and repeat the game with the rest of the team.
The empathy bingo game can help your customer service teams increase their awareness of empathetic language. The more they use it in their day-to-day job, the more it becomes an internalized habit of adding empathy in customer service.
#3. Watch a movie together
This one is easy for achieving empathy in customer services. And it mixes well with popcorn or pizzas for the whole team.
Every Friday (or the day of the week that works for your team), showcase a movie or TV series that encourages empathy in customer service. Maybe call it a Sappy Movie Hour because most of these movies are powerful tear-jerkers.
Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- The Green Mile (1999)
- Freaky Friday (2003)
- What Would You Do? (2008)
- Inside Out (2015)
- This Is Us (2016)
At the end of each session, gather in groups to discuss the main takeaways or encourage your staff to share stories from their own lives to ensure your service team understands the point behind the exercise. A mutual discussion will promote empathy in customer services.
This exercise can help build new perspectives by generating clear expressions of empathy statements for customer service.
#4. Encourage random acts of kindness
This must be a stealth mode game where the participants’ identities are never to be disclosed. That’s the only way you can get the message across about the importance of altruism.
Here’s how you do it. Write everyone’s names in “raffle tickets,” shuffle them and put them in a jar, and let everyone pick one ticket from the pot. If they draw their name out, let them choose another name.
Now, each person is supposed to do a random act of kindness for the person whose name they receive in the lottery.
This is similar to the Secret Santa gift culture but a bit more extreme. In this game, the Santas are not supposed to gift but do something sincerely, such as write an appreciation note, order their favorite food, or write 30 good things about them for the next 30 days.
Let curiosity and compassion be your guide for empathy in customer services.
The recipient’s role is to share their experiences with the whole team once they receive a kind deed. They are also supposed to tell everyone what they learned from the exercise.
Empathy in customer services will always be the cornerstone of great CX and nurtures lasting emotionally driven connections.
#5. Silly charades
You must have played silly charades a million times growing up. To teach empathy in customer service teams, you must tweak the game’s rules by just a little.
The basic rules remain the same — divide your teams into groups of 2–4 and give them turns to prepare their ideas.
But instead of movie names or songs, this game of dumb charades requires the players to act out a hypothetical situation that a customer is going through.
Maybe their order went missing or was never delivered.
Perhaps they broke the product after a few days of use.
Or they are calling you to request an exchange.
Let them act these scenes out and make the rival teams guess the customer’s situation. If a team can guess it correctly, make someone from that team give a response in the same manner.
The team that pulls off both acts correctly most often win.
It’s a game that tricks your mind into empathizing with people without even listening to what they say.
How do you show empathy at work?
Empathy in customer services type leadership means having the dexterity to understand and acknowledge the needs of your peers and being cognizant of their emotional state.
Here are the following techniques that help you as a company accomplishes empathy in customer services while adapting to dynamic and impulsive customers.
- Involve Employees in Decision-Making
- Build Customized Plans for All Employees
- Show Genuine Interest in Their Goals and Interests
- Demonstrate Values and Lead by empathy in customer services
- Have An Open-Door Policy
- Combine empathy in customer services with Compassion
- Consider Their Workload and Burnout
We are thriving in an AI-enabled, post-pandemic era. In the digital-first world, there are multiple touchpoints of virtual ways to interact that require empathy in customer services. Albeit, these novelties can only become go-to-strategy for a credible return on investment (Keeping empathy in customer services in mind) if the employees using these tactics backed with cutting-edge technology can walk in the emotional shoes of their customers.
Comment below which customer experience solutions and exercises your organization should start implementing today for empathy in customer services.
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