The Path to Better Customer Relationships Begins with Empathy

Back when I was a Star Service & Receptionist Cultivator (what we call staff managers here at Ruby), Mag was one of my favorite virtual receptionists to listen to while she took calls. She’s always had an incredible ability to empathize, and the way she can pick up on the slightest show of emotion from a caller is really something. For a person to experience empathy, they must either recognize and understand the emotions of another, or meet another person’s mental state with the appropriate emotional response. Mag can easily do both, and callers love her for it.

Virtual receptionist Mag C.
Mag C.’s warmth shines on the phone

Empathy’s beauty is in its ability to facilitate trust, which is essential for maintaining healthy personal relationships, but empathy can also deepen the quality of your professional associations. With a few kind words, Mag is no longer a receptionist to that caller or client, but someone who is on their team rooting for them. You can actually hear a sense of relief in their voice the moment that connection is made.

Showing empathy can be particularly comforting to a frustrated customer, or even someone having a tough day. Letting them know that you want their issue resolved just as much as they do will often turn a concerned or upset person into a happy one.  When speaking with a frustrated caller, try acknowledging their feelings. An understanding tone and the right words can make all the difference in the world to someone who’s having a less than ideal day. You might say,

I’m sorry to hear that! I can see how this would be frustrating. Let me see what I can do for you.

On the other hand, if your customer is in a great mood or if they have cause to celebrate, celebrate with them! Let’s say a new client is starting a business and they need your law firm’s help with the legal details. If they seem excited, you might say,

That’s wonderful! Congrats! Opening a new business is a big move, and you’ve come to just the right place.

It might be tempting to brush off opportunities to empathize for the sake of buttoned-up professionalism or time, but doesn’t it feel great when another person seems to really get where you’re coming from? Empathy, understanding, and compassion come naturally to most people on some level, so next time you feel a calling to empathize, reach out. Customers will remember your connection the next time they (or their friends) are in the market for your services!

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