More than ever before, customers are looking for companies that will show them empathy and understanding. People are craving compassionate solutions from their product or service providers. Let’s face it, it’s been a rough time recently with a global pandemic, political unrest and let’s not forget homeschooling!
So, what does it actually mean to be empathetic as a company, and why should you pay attention to this characteristic?
Oxford Languages describes empathy as the following: “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” This may sound a bit soppy, but there are definitely numerous benefits to showing empathy.
Here are some of those benefits:
- Customer loyalty
- Increased competitiveness
- Improved reputation with customers
- Better online reviews
- More word-of-mouth referrals
Demonstrating empathy will inevitably position you as a forward thinking and customer focussed organisation. Read on to find out how to practically become an empathetic organisation.
Equip Your Team
Your customers may be under new pressures which they haven’t experienced before. Millions of people have gone through a loss or reduction in income. People may have also experienced home pressures because of closed schools and of course the loss of loved ones.
Pressure can cause people to act out of character, often in a negative way.
Your company or team must be able to answer new queries, manage increased demand for customer service and serve emotionally charged people who need their help. An amazing way to support your team is through training.
Investing time into a training session about empathy will work wonders for your business.
The training should include the following topics:
- How to show empathy over the phone and via email
- Practical solutions to common problems (such as financial difficulty)
- Details of the company’s complaint handling procedures
- A practical demonstration of how to show empathy
Once a training session has been delivered, the next step is ensuring staff are kept accountable for how they are treating customers. This can be in the form of monthly meetings, half-year reviews and annual appraisals. Be honest with your team about how they are doing in terms of customer service and provide continuous tips on how to be empathetic.
Reward team members for providing outstanding and empathetic service. Encourage your team to share positive customer service stories during team meetings. This will cultivate a customer-centric culture and will positively incentivise treating customers well.
People are looking for companies who are willing to listen to their challenging circumstances. Customers want service providers who take the time to treat them as an individual rather than a number. This means having new procedures and resources in place which will allow your customer facing teams to demonstrate authentic patience.
Here are some measures you can put in place:
More Staff: Provide additional staff on incoming call lines where possible to deal with busy periods. This allows staff to take more time with their callers without the pressure of knowing there is a large queue.
Extra Time: Train and encourage your staff to give customers extra time to explain their situations or queries.
Solutions: Ensure all staff are up to date with any new solutions your organisation is offering such as payment breaks.
Be in the Know: Stay up to date with the latest Government support so that your team can sign post customers to the relevant organisations where appropriate.
Bend the Rules
You must have been hiding under a rock to have missed all the wonderful rule-bending demonstrated by companies recently. Banks are waiving interest; travel companies are offering special refund options and schools are cancelling exams!
The world has gone slightly mad – yes, I said it mad. But I honestly mean mad in a good way.
The pandemic has brought out the human side of many large organisations which is refreshing, long overdue and downright beautiful.
Ok -my rant is over…. now let me tell you why you should be bending the rules for your customers. Providing flexibility for your regulars will solidify you in their hearts as a company worth committing to. In short, people are more likely to stay loyal to your brand if you provide support during tough times.
Bending the rules may cause your company to take a temporary financial hit, but that’s OK as it should be seen as an investment into customer retention. Be bold, brave and innovative when thinking of how you can bend the rules a little. Lean into any fears surrounding the possible financial hit.
The New Normal
The pandemic offers up a great opportunity for businesses to stand out as empathetic, forward thinking and innovative. Showing the human side of your company will set you apart as a winner in the new normal.
Become a workforce that is flexible, empathetic and open to change in order to serve your customers in a new and exciting way.