The world today is a customer service nightmare. Supply chains are strained, even interrupted, causing product shortages and delivery delays. Patience wears thin in even the most understanding customer relationships.
Empathy and compassion are always important emotions for increasing customer ❤️, and that’s especially true in challenging times like those facing many sellers today.
Empathy and compassion are different actions that often walk hand-in-hand. Teaching your team to deliver both of these effectively is key to creating memorable customer experiences.
Empathy and compassion: How are they different?
In her essay in the compilation, Compassion@Work, my friend Stacey Oliver-Knappe writes about the difference between empathy and compassion. She states that empathy is to say “I understand” whereas compassion is to say “I get that this is rough, but I’ve got your back and I want to help.” I’m grateful to Stacey for inspiring my recent musings.
Empathy means you can say, “I’ve been frustrated, too. I can hear that you’re frustrated, I know what it’s like to feel frustrated.” In other words, empathy is being able to relate to the customer’s problem. In the case of my clients, this shows up when a customer has a common problem and the customer service representative knows they will be able to help the customer find their answer. When the representative can say, “I know that’s frustrating,” that empowers and reassures. Customers know they are heard and that it’s okay for them to feel the way they feel.
Compassion is different and equally important. Compassion takes empathy’s “I understand” and adds, “and I’m here for you, and I’ve got your back.” This can be a comfort in any customer service situation, but it is especially important when dealing with a difficult problem that isn’t in any one person’s control of solving — like a supply chain issue, for example. In this situation, compassion offers more than understanding, committing to your customer that your organization will see this problem through to the end.
Empathy, compassion and customer ❤️
Empathy and compassion strengthen each other. They’re like two ends of a bridge: you need both to hold up the connection. So how do they interact in business?
Selling a product or service, especially in the world of business-to-business, is seeking to understand a customers’ problems and presenting them with the solution. This means being empathetic about the problem they’re having, and showing compassion by following through until customer issues are resolved.
I found a great example of empathy and compassion in a recent 3C Communications engagement with a company that offers a critical niche solution in the tax preparation software marketplace. While the software product is amazing, their secret weapon is a balance of empathy and compassion when dealing with customers. The interviews I conducted with customers revealed the power of a video library they had created, featuring videos of the software company’s tax experts walking viewers through not only nearly every aspect of successful implementation and onboarding, but addressing specific challenges that commonly arise as companies face more challenging tax preparation issues, like when companies prepare to seek investment capital.
The software company showed that they understood their clients’ environments and common frustrations — that they, too, had experienced the same tax problems, and had walked in their customers’ shoes.
This showed empathy, but also compassion with their commitment to helping their customers work through their problems until they’d been solved. In addition to the library, they promised customers that if none of the videos were able to help, they had a group of people who could relate to their issues on standby, ready to jump in and get them to the finish line.
Two ingredients for a successful recipe
Empathy and compassion are delicately interwoven parts of building customer ❤️ and trust. Your customer service model must include both to be successful. Begin by teaching your customer service team the difference between these two actions and what each one sounds like coming from your sales, marketing, and customer success teams. Then show how they are stronger together and how empathy and compassion can be applied to their daily interactions with customers (and each other).
Not sure how to get started? 3C Communications offers half-and full-day workshops to help your teams exercise empathy and compassion to build solid, lasting customer relationships. If this could be helpful for you, contact us for a free, no obligation discussion.