By Kate Nasser
Customer care (customer service, help desks, technical support, contact call center) reps, sometimes struggle with showing empathy to angry customers. Heck, some struggle with showing empathy to any customer!
Throughout 20 years of inspiring and training professionals to understand the customer’s perspective and empathize to build customer loyalty, I have seen some who are naturally good at it, some who learn it, and others who struggle with it.
Most puzzling to me have been those whom I have seen empathizing with customers — except with angry or irate customers. If you or your customer care reps find it difficult to empathize with customers — especially angry or irate customers — is fear of emotion part of the reason? I believe that it could be. I have met professionals (many not even in customer care) who are afraid to empathize with a colleague, a customer, or even a boss. They have said to me, “What if the person gets more emotional when I empathize?”
Moreover, recent research has taken on the subject of negative emotions and empathy. In one such study, subjects empathized more with those who showed fear than with those who showed anger. Turning Bad Emotions Into Empathy and ProSocial Behavior post reports: “While there is a huge range of human emotion, recent studies have suggested that a fearful facial expression is a more salient elicitor of prosocial behavior than are other facial expressions, such as surprise or anger.”
Empathy - Lose the Fear By:Zaaracollier
Are you more likely to show empathy to a customer who shows you their fear — credit card problems or serious technical difficulties or critical health issues — rather than their anger? Is it because their fear doesn’t frighten you but their anger does?
The issue is critical in customer service, technical support, and customer care because it affects customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Showing empathy to customers, angry or not, builds bonds to your product, service, and brand.
Lose the fear of the customer’s anger to build your empathy skills. Here is a post to help you do exactly that Two Mindsets to Show Empathy for Irate Customers.
What else do you think blocks people’s ability to show empathy? We welcome your comments below.