Empathy = “Fixing” The Customer



People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.                                 — Bonnie Jean Wasmund 

Errors are inevitable and part of human nature.  Thus, in regards to customer service, some calls will require dealing with irate or frustrated customers.  In fact, from the customer’s perspective, no difference exist between the customer service rep and the company.  To the customer, the customer service rep IS the company.  Yet, too often customers do not feel as if their situation is handled correctly.  Why?  Many customer service reps try to fix the problem without first addressing the customer’s feelings.  By exercising empathy, frontline employees are able to more effectively resolve issues and avoid the need to escalate calls to a supervisor.    

As with many other industries, health care is suffering from a serious decline in doctor visits and elective surgery.  This decline is affected by the soaring health care cost and subsequent shift in cost to the insured.  Nonetheless, increased health care cost may not be the only factor related to consumers’ avoidance or limitation of health care services.  In a recent survey, “40% of Americans believe that banks provide better service than hospitals and clinics and 18% say airlines are better at serving their customers.”  In an industry in which empathy is a requirement, health care professionals are missing the mark according to consumers.  

To empathize with the customer, the situation is likely to be diffused.  Most certainly, the health care industry is not the only sector that needs to focus on providing better customer service through empathy.  Rather every organization that provides a service and/or product will benefit from customer loyalty by ensuring the frontline employees handle its customer with the utmost respect–through empathy.  Try it the next time you are faced with a heated situation (it doesn’t have to be a customer).  For example, if your friend or co-worker complains about a situation, empathize with them.  You might say “I would feel the same way if I were in your situation,” or “I don’t blame you for how you feel.”  Notice their reaction and change of demeanor.  Rather than fighting an uphill battle, the person now feels as if together the both of you are able to resolve the issue!Describe a situation in which empathy was not used?  How might the situation changed had you or the person exercised empathy?

8 Responses to “Empathy = “Fixing” The Customer”

  1. I am always interested in discussions about empathy. Having empathy is part of being emotionally intelligent. I am certified in emotional intelligence training. What is good about EI is that it can be developed. Some personality preferences such as those measured by Myers-Briggs are things that are pretty much set in stone, just as our preference to write with our right or left hand is. However, EI is not a preference so it can be improved. Therefore we can all work on being more empathetic. Great article! D

    • Thanks for the response and information Dr D! It appears more businesses are using EI assessments as part of the hiring process. In fact, some say EI may be as important, if not more important than IQ. Your thoughts?

  2. I actually wrote about that in one of my books. Yes . . . some companies are now considering one’s EQ more important than their IQ. If you think about some of the components of EQ such as interpersonal skills . . . you can see the importance.

    • What is the name of your book related to EI? I’d love to check it out! Indeed, interpersonal skills are quite important. Thanks, LB

  3. My daughter, Toni Rothpletz, and I wrote a book about personalities that is still in the process of production right now . . .You can follow up with it on my site: http://www.drdianehamilton.com or my blog at http://www.drdianehamilton.wordpress.com . . . I wrote my dissertation on how emotional intelligence impacts sales performance. Interpersonal skills were a huge factor in sales success. I also wrote about it in my book The Online Student’s User Manual in a chapter about future planning and the importance of EQ. Thanks . . . D

  4. Thansk LB . . . there is a link on there to a recent radio interview you might find interesting . . . see: http://bit.ly/9BgOND

    I enjoy your blog as well . . . I will continue to follow you . . .

    • Thanks for the additional information and I look forward to listening to the interview tonight. I’m glad your enjoying my “thoughts on blog”! Thank you, it means a lot to me, LB

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