Building empathy in your contact center team

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5 min read

Highlights:

  • Empathy is an important quality among contact center agents.
  • Building empathy includes encouraging agents to imagine themselves on the other end of calls with customers–to put themselves in their customers’ shoes.
  • Cloud technology can help agents build and demonstrate customer empathy more effectively.

 

When customers make a call to a contact center, they want their questions answered and their issues resolved. But they also want empathy shown for their unique situation. Without some level of empathy on the part of the contact center agent handling the call, the customer will likely feel as though their concerns were not heard or their business does not matter to your organization.


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What is empathy?

Simply put, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is an element of emotional intelligence that includes being aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another.

In the contact center environment, customer empathy means that your contact center agents are tuned in to how your customers feel, they understand the experiences their customers are having, and they are motivated to act in ways that show that understanding.

Some agents might be naturally gifted with emotional intelligence, while others may find that it’s a skill that must be acquired and learned. How can contact center supervisors teach empathy and why is it so important to do so?

 

Why empathy matters in the contact center

Empathy is one of the most important qualities your contact center agents can cultivate.Here are a few reasons why this is a trait that all successful contact center agents have.

Empathy strengthens the agent-customer connection

Empathy helps agents connect with customers and makes customers feel as though their needs and concerns are being heard. When contact center agents show a level of understanding and are sensitive to the needs and feelings of customers, a more positive customer experience results.

Empathy helps agents find the right solution

When clients call in to a contact canter looking for a solution to their problems, an empathetic agent truly listening to the needs of the customer is better equipped to arrive at an effective solution. Being empathetic helps agents build customer trust and find the optimal way to resolve the issue at hand to the customer’s complete satisfaction.

Empathy adds a ‘humanizing’ element to customer interactions

In today’s highly digital environment, customers can easily feel as if they are just another number in a call queue. Given the lack of face-to-face interaction, the human element can sometimes be overlooked.

Displaying empathy for customers can go a long way toward bringing the human touch back into contact center interactions. When customers know that they are having a conversation with a living, breathing human who understands their point of view, their level of satisfaction with the interaction increases. It is human nature to want to be both heard and understood.

Human connection helps agents to experience satisfaction in their work as well. Knowing that they have a real impact on customer experience can be deeply rewarding for agents, which, in turn, contributes to better agent retention.

 

How to build empathy into your contact center team

Given the importance of customer empathy, supervisors must take steps to help build a contact center team full of insightful and compassionate agents. Here are a few tips to help.

Build empathetic scripts, but know when to go off-script as well

In most contact centers, agents typically have a script to follow to ensure they’ve covered all the bases with their phone calls. It’s important that those scripts are phrased in such a way that customers understand the contact center agent is trying to be helpful. Review your scripts to see where improvements in word choice might better convey customer empathy.

Although scripts are part of the job, every customer call is unique. While some may simply be calling to ask questions, others may be irate and have serious concerns. Agents should be encouraged to gauge the situation before responding so they don’t come across as insensitive to the customer’s situation.

For instance, in the event of an angry customer call, the agent handling the case may want to allow the client to express their frustrations and follow up with a validation of the customer’s concerns with phrases such as “I’m sorry you experienced that,” or “I can understand your frustrations.” Once the situation is under control and the customer feels that the agent is really listening, the conversation can move forward to a successful resolution.

Visualize a real person on the other end of the line

Contact center agents deal with many customers every day, so it can be easy for them to forget that there’s a real person on the other end of the line. Humanizing the customer can help agents develop a deeper customer connection, which is key to empathizing with them and engaging in a more personal conversation.

Imagine being in the customer’s situation

It’s helpful for agents to consider the perspective of the customer. In many cases, what seems like an obvious answer to a contact center agent may be completely foreign to a customer’s way of thinking. Remembering that customers can be bewildered and frustrated by the situation that led them to call can help agents to empathize more completely. Doing so can also help the agent come up with a sound solution to the issue at hand that benefits both the customer and the business.

Ask lots of questions

Active listening is a critical trait for contact center agents. By asking specific questions, the agent is showing the customer that they are sympathetic toward the issues the customer is facing and actively engaged in coming up with a resolution. Gathering as many answers as possible right from the get-go can help reduce any errors along the way.

Practice role playing

Contact center agents must have some type of formal training before they’re given a headset. As part of their training, consider adding some role playing to help them develop their empathy skills before they embark on real conversations with customers. Not only can agents learn a few things from role playing, but they can also get more comfortable with their new skills after a little practice.

Use the right technology

It’s helpful to note that customer frustrations are often exacerbated by cumbersome experiences when calling contact centers. Whether it’s longer-than-normal hold times or constant bouncing back and forth between different levels of customer service, such issues can make the customer even more frustrated than when they initially picked up the phone to call.

Innovative contact center solutions from RingCentral can help avoid all that w. With cutting-edge contact center technology, the experience of both agents and customers can be vastly improved.

At RingCentral, our state-of-the-art technology is built for contact centers in any industry. Our all-in-one solution brings together cloud technology, team messaging, telephone, and video conferencing solutions to create an effective and streamlined contact center environment.

Speak with a RingCentral representative today to request your free demo.

Originally published Feb 03, 2022, updated Feb 09, 2022

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