Offering Empathy

Stuff Happens

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

If you’re in the business of providing customer service (and who isn’t?) then you know that things will go wrong.  Yes, please work on reducing the number of times things go wrong, but this note is about how to handle the conversation – in an email.

What your customer needs when they share their concern is to feel heard, valued and to know what’s up next.  

I had an interaction that did just that a while ago and thought I’d share.
Notice the difference between a robotic, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience” and this reply:

"Thanks for reaching out, and huge bummer to hear the sizing wasn't perfect for you. We can definitely exchange that Medium out for a Small.

I'm attaching a return label for you to print, pop on the box, and hand off to your local postal worker. Once we receive your lid* back in our warehouse, I'll ship you out a Small.

Have a great afternoon." 

*lid – it was a bike helmet.  These days I only dream of returning a medium for a small. :-)

How do you apologize and make it right in your emails to customers?

If you’d like help with ideas on how to personalize, humanize and empathize your emails drop me a note.

Smile and the World Smiles with You

Photo Credit:

Smiling, like yawning, is contagious.

When someone comes into your office, your cube or the company kitchen, look up and smile at them.

Bet they smile back, betcha it goes viral faster than this video of Fiona The Hippo

Tip:  If they don’t, be extra kind.  They might be having a tough day and need a little extra care.

On another note:  Would you like to get WARD CERTIFIED?  Now you can, click here to learn more.

Triple Nod

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Do you deal with customers and clients in person?

If so, get to know the triple nod.

  • No nodding = bored or disinterested
  • Too much nodding = impatient or overly agreeable
  • The Goldilocks of nodding - just right - is three, slow and deliberate nods.  That signals your customer to keep going by showing that you are listening.

BTW:  Works on internal customers too.

Question for you...

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How much Dunkin’ Donuts coffee does Ann drink a year?
     -  Do you know?
     -  Would you like try to figure it out or guess?

Your answer should be: “I don’t know” but most people are uncomfortable saying those words.   
We like to be smart, have answers, and be an expert.  This is helpful when we are solving problems, but not when we are listening.  When you are listening, it’s better to be curious and open.

At the beginning of your next call,  aim to be curious not right.

Try this simple chant as you greet your caller: “I wonder who it is? I wonder what they need?”

Give it a whirl and let me know how it works for you.  I’m curious and probably drinking a dunkin'.

Keep your eye on the prize

Have you been watching the Olympics? The athletes are achieving great feats, breaking records and winning medals.

Do you ever wonder what it took to get there?   Sacrifice.

Olympians have been so focused preparing for their event that they’ve given up vacations, parties, hobbies and even participating in other leisure sports.  They’ve kept their eye on the prize.

Do you ever get:

  1. Thrown off your game by an upset or intimidating caller?
  2. Frazzled when someone asks about price?
  3. Upset when they threaten to leave?

Today, when you get that tough caller, keep your eye on the prize by being patient, actively listening and offering empathy. 

The prize?  Happy Customers. :-)

It's your call

Every day we are asked one question over and over, and while it seems like a simple question, the answer may have a big impact on your day and theirs.  What's the question?  

How are you?

The ball is in your court - how will you respond? 

Sometimes the truth is ugly.  "I'm tired, hungry, cranky, late, giving my skinny jeans a bigger workout than they deserve..."  Does the person asking really want to hear all that?  No, probably not.  The question is really just a pleasantry, in fact most people don't even stop to hear the answer.

Consder the responses, "not bad", "I've had better", "only 5 more day 'til the weekend".  Comments like these come across as negative.

The other downside of 'fessing up to negative feelings or using sarcasm, is the impact it can have on you.  Smack-talkin' your day can set a negative tone for the conversation and can really bring you down.  

So here's an idea, choose a response and play with it all day.  

How about "I'm having a marvelous Monday, a terrific Tuesday, a wacky Wednesday etc."

Or "I'm doing great!"  "Good, thank you for asking"  "I'm awesome - you?"

The upside of choosing to respond in an upbeat, somewhat unusual way is that it pumps you up.  You can convince yourself that things are good!  

The mind believes what you tell it.  Why not tell it something positive?

How are you doing?  Share your responses here...