Empathy in Customer Service

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Delivering fantastic customer experiences involves more than keeping CSAT high and AHT low. Customers don’t just want you to solve their problems—they want you to do so in a genuinely empathetic way.

At MaestroQA, we consider empathy as putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, which isn’t the easiest thing to quantify or track. 

Let’s take a closer look at empathy in customer service and tips for leveraging QA to ensure better experiences.

Demonstrating Empathy in Customer Service

Customers can easily recognize (and appreciate!) empathy when they experience it. They can also detect when an agent is trying to seem empathetic—but, in reality, it’s all a show. 

Don’t Fall into These Traps

Much has been written online about empathy in customer service. Just do a quick search, and you’re bound to find all sorts of tricks, tips, and buzzwords. Unfortunately, many of these “best practices” fall short of helping the agent to demonstrate genuine empathy. 

For example, you’ve probably heard that restating the issue back to the customer is a best practice. That’s only true, however, if you understand the customer’s issue. Changing your story later in the conversation can make you look silly and frustrate the customer. As Mel Bilge, Director of Customer Success, Strategic here at MaestroQA, points out, “Don’t just copy, paste, and repeat to make it seem like you understand. It should be about understanding exactly what the customer is asking.”

Words that express empathy—such as “I’m sorry,” “I understand,” or “I’ve got your back”—can be appropriate in certain situations. Still, such phrases should not be empty statements to simply make the customer feel better. “Be careful about how you choose phrases that mirror empathy and make sure that your follow-through reflects that,” Bilge said.

Being Empathetic is about Being Genuine

The best path to empathy starts with treating customers like people—not support tickets. Seek to quickly understand the customer’s frame of mind and tailor the experience to his or her needs. As Bilge said, “Is the customer coming in hot, or are they approaching from a steadier state?” The efficiency of delivery along with the agent’s tone plays an especially important role when helping customers through time-sensitive, frustrating issues. 

Empowering agents with additional flexibility to make judgment calls is another way to increase empathy. “Following processes to a fault might not be the best way to resolve the customer’s issue. Taking some liberties could help solve the customer’s problem and result in higher satisfaction levels,” Bilge said. 

Developing a Game Plan to Increase Empathy

Agents don’t magically become more empathetic overnight. Increasing empathy in customer service is a gradual process that requires ongoing commitment to change. That’s best achieved through training, coaching, and QA.

Training: Start by evaluating your existing training program. Does empathy play an essential part in the training materials? Do you provide specific examples to help agents demonstrate empathy across all channels (phone, email, chat, etc.)? For example, encouraging agents to use emojis in written communication might help them “sound” more empathetic.

Coaching: Setting clear expectations, reviewing productivity metrics, and assigning action items are all parts of an effective coaching session. Providing personalized feedback to agents is also part of the process, which is a great time to weave empathy into your coaching.

QA: Of course, good coaching depends on good data. That’s why QA is especially important to empathy-focused CX teams. Regularly reviewing and grading agent interactions—specifically for empathy—establishes a baseline for measuring progress and informing coaching and training decisions.

Leveraging QA Insights to Become More Empathetic

MaestroQA can make tracking, coaching, and increasing empathy across your CX organization easier. For starters, creating an empathy-focused rubric in MaestroQA gives graders a tangible way to review interactions from the customer’s perspective. Flexible question types (multiple choice and linear scoring) and non-scoring options make it possible to design a rubric that captures relevant data.

“We can create highly configurable and flexible rubrics, and you can create as many rubrics as you need,” Bilge said. “If you can dream it, there’s a good chance you can build it with MaestroQA.”

Weighting certain sections of the rubric allow CX leaders to emphasize actions that directly impact empathy, such as the agent’s tone. “With weighting, you can value what matters most to your business and relate that to your higher-level CX goals,” Bilge said.

As tickets are graded and data is tabulated in MaestroQA, you’ll see how your team performs from an empathy standpoint. Drill down by question, agent, or other criteria for an in-depth look into factors contributing to (or detracting from) the customer experience. 

Use MaestroQA to Track (& Improve) Empathy in CX

With MaestroQA, CX leaders can finally achieve a data-driven approach to improving agent empathy. Interested in learning how to build an empathy rubric? 

Request a demo of MaestroQA to get started. 

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