We’ve all heard about statements like “Know your customer” or “empathy is vital in customer-employee interactions” in the past decade. The emotional intelligence (EQ) is incorporated into the script and training of all support agents as well as other frontline teams. 

So, is there actual evidence that empathy has an impact on customer satisfaction? There aren’t actually that many scientific studies presenting empirical data on this topic but one produced findings that customers are more likely to ‘forgive’ dissatisfying encounters if agents/employees exhibit genuine empathy and emotional sensitivity despite the unwanted outcome. 

Another empirical research testing the Empathy Rating Index (ERIC) in UK call centers found that every point increase on empathy results in 16.4 percent increase on ROCE (Return on Capital Employed), not only validating the theorized correlation between empathy and customer experience but also corroborating the actual impact on the bottom line.

If your organization is looking to improve empathy in customer engagement, consider the following tools to help you do so.

VOIP: Empathy starts before the first contact

How customers to view ‘empathy’ begins way before they make the first contact with your employee (sales or support). If your customer calls and ends up in the queue for a long time, they would perceive you to be unempathetic. Customers know that companies make phone calls or reaching support challenging to reduce cost. Your brand now is recognized as prioritizing bottom line before their satisfaction. A simple solution for offering a ‘call back’ function improves customer perception and satisfaction dramatically.

With powerful VoIP technology, you can set the tone of empathy during this pre-contact experience. You can add multi-language attendant for non-native English speakers. You can even forward the call to a ‘team’ for certain complex issues which require multiple escalations so that the customer does not have to go through the dreadful process of repeating their problem over and over again.

Emotion/Sentiment Detection: Empathy in automated interactions

The truth is that as labor costs skyrocket, it will become harder and harder for companies to offer a sufficient number of available agents who are trained in empathic interactions. With the rise of a chatbot to make customer support interactions more efficient, the next step would be chatbots having the ability to recognize sentiment in a text to respond accordingly.

This way, the AI can assess the customer issue more accurately and assign appropriate priority level, which will help match it to the support resource best suited to handle such customer. It also would better enable proactive engagement/support (i.e., pervasive computing).

Is this possible? A short answer is yes, but with significant limitations. However, it is in use today. The UK government, for instance, uses sentiment analysis to measure the overall happiness and well-being of the people.

E-Learning: Equipping employees to master empathy

Most companies tend to focus on providing technical/mechanical knowledge to agents so they can script their response to customer queries. However, when agents are following a ‘protocol’ without actually listening to the customers’ unique situations, it triggers a level of anger that will leave a lasting mark on their perception of your brand.

All customer-facing employees must understand who their customers are (beyond just their demographics) and why it’s essential to know how to speak the language of the customer. They can be offered courses in marketing/market research, which often provides tangible techniques on how to step in the customers’ shoes.

Besides, those managing these employees should be learning how to be good leaders and incorporate empathy in the way they oversee the team. Continuous learning is the only way to prepare your human resources to adapt to changing market demands. Thanks to online learning platforms, this task is no longer only available to large enterprises with extra budget.

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