Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Empathy, and the Recipe for Chocolate Cake

Once upon a time, (isn’t that how they always start), a young woman took a leap, and accepted a position in a customer service role. This is a new adventure, how exciting!!

The young woman had no experience in customer service, but was up for the challenge. She thought should could figure it out. She could talk to anyone; how hard could this be? I mean, they are just people, right? Friends had always told her she could talk to anyone, she was an expert in her previous field, and she wasn’t afraid of anything,

She had a new team to work with, and colleagues with different skill sets. They all seemed like they knew what they were doing. She plugged in her headset and started her day.

Things are going well. "How can I help you?" "Can you please tell me what happened?" "Thank you for calling! I am happy to have helped you!" It seemed like a breeze. Day one done.

Day two, started out the same, until the call came in, that she wasn’t prepared for. "How can I help you?" The reply was simple, “I am not sure you can.” Really?

"Can you please tell me what happened?"

The customer stated, "I have a huge problem. Your office told me that I wouldn’t have to enter in all of this data. I can’t believe all of this happened! I am so mad, and I need to talk to someone who can help me!"

She is having a moment of crisis. Could I help her? Do I know what happened? What did she say she needed on her previous calls? What did we tell her? When did this happen?

Realizing the woman on the phone was mad already, and asking her to hold could only irritate her more, she  was focused on diffusing the situation and finding out what happened. How can she make this better? How can she make this right?

Things aren’t going well. She is trying to listen, trying to research, and trying to figure out how this went so horribly wrong.

Many thoughts came to mind. "Where do I look to find this?"  "Who can help me, help her?"  "Did she make the mistake?"  Then, she remembered something her colleague said to her at lunch, "if you list it out, you willl figure it out."

So, she had the customer start from the beginning, to understand how this happened. She assured the customer that she'd make things right.

The customer took her back to the beginning. She went back to when she didn’t understand what needed to happen, back to when she called the service team to make sure she was doing the right thing.

The service agent was able to list it out, step by step, documenting each situation while the customer was explaining. During this process, while she was listening to the customer, she felt empathy.

In that moment, "I know how to talk to people, or I’m excited about the new opportunity", didn't matter.  It was upsetting, being in this position. "How would I feel if it was me?" "Who would help me, after I called several times before?" Does anyone  in this organization care?"

In those moments, when don’t have the right information, directions, and resources, things can escalate out of control. You have the wrong ingredients.

Give you staff the recipe for success:
  1. Train them in the details
  2. Address their concerns
  3. Give them resources
  4. Do the right thing
  5. Be human
  6. Utilize empathy and sympathy
  7. Actively listen 
  8. Be available, be present, be real
  9. Empower your staff to make the BEST decisions for customers

In the end, the above story worked out. I'm sure by this point, your are wondering about the chocolate cake. Well, I needed something to keep your attention.

I love what I do. I love my industry. I love the long hours and weekend set ups, concrete floors to flights of fancy, coffee runs and changes on the fly. My goal: delivering client needs on budget, and on time.

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