Without a doubt, you’ll agree that we need to be empathetic in the way we communicate.
Have you ever been frustrated and at your wit’s end by the way a person communicates with you?
I have wasted 45 minutes of my time on the phone with your customer service and now I call again and after selecting the right options, I am transferred to the switch board. “Sorry madam, since you asked for a specific person’s name, you got transferred to the switch board.” I asked for John because that is whom I was in conversation with before which he either disconnected the phone or the line was cut off. I don’t wish to repeat my story to another customer service after having spent 45 minutes on the phone with John, before that an entire week going back and forth on emails with your company and yet, the matter has not been resolved. So, can you please transfer me to John.
“Madam I understand, do you have John’s full name.” No I don’t. My name is Lalita Raman and my case no is xxxxx, if that helps.
This was my conversation with one of the international and renowned newspapers with whom I was trying to renew my on-line subscription.
The switch board operator heard me out patiently and mentioned he will try to find the person who had serviced me. After putting me on hold for 5-7 minutes, he said there is no one by the name of John but the person I had spoken to was Jomar and he was busy on the other line. I continued to express my frustration. Wilson, the switch board operator patiently listened to me and he said he could take my number down and said he will assure that Jomar gives me a call back within 20 minutes. At this point in time my irritation levels were super high. He then asked if he could have Jomar’s supervisor to speak with me since she was available and that she had been briefed on my query and the frustration over the level of service.
That response immediately calmed me down and I felt, wow, here is a person who has gone beyond his call of duty and not only understood my frustration but had made an effort to find out the person who serviced me, his supervisor’s name and had made sure that the supervisor was up to date on the issue that I was facing. That sense of understanding on his part brought my Amygdala under control. I thanked him.
I then spoke to the supervisor and she immediately said “Madam I apologize for your experience and I don’t want our company to lose you as a customer. My system is very slow so though you have already spent an immense amount of time on the phone and email with us, you’ll have to bear with me before I can get your details on the computer screen. What I can assure you is that I can give you a discount, the amount I can confirm once the system is up, and I will enquire into why your email was not responded to despite follow ups from your end. Madam, I would not like to be treated the way you were treated. Any time you need help, I am the supervisor on shift at night-time and I will be here. So please feel free to call or email me.”
I instantly connected with her because of the genuine interest she showed in me and my issue and her sincerity in helping me out.
I chatted with her for some time asking her why she always worked night shifts and how long she has been in her current role, etc.
Once her system was up she was able to confirm the amount, answer my query and she kept up her word of sending an email to me confirming the renewal amount, and that she will call me on July 30.
Why did I connect with her?
She cared for me and that was evident by the way she started her conversation with me and her honesty. She did not give the usual company one line clichés or slogans of “we are sorry for the inconvenience caused and we apologize. How can I help you?”
She understood what her company had put me through, my frustration and she took control of the situation by listening to understand and provide a solution that mattered to me. That was Human.
She not only listened with her ears but She showed EMPATHY. Deep listening is not only about hearing with our ears but connecting at a deeper level.
Why is Empathy Important – 7 Reasons
We are emotional beings and no matter whom you are conversing with, be it your customer or colleague or boss or friend or a person assisting you at the supermarket check-out, remember that they are human.
Each of us have ups and downs in our day and understanding each other in that moment goes a long way in making an emotional connection. Both Wilson and the lady supervisor on shift connected with me because they understood what I was going through.
Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, who with his colleagues at the University of Parma first identified mirror neurons, says that the neurons could help explain how and why we “read” other people’s minds and feel empathy for them. Mirror neurons are one key to understanding how human beings survive and thrive in a complex social world, says neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, MD, PhD, one of Rizzolatti’s colleagues at the University of Parma. “It seems we’re wired to see other people as similar to us, rather than different,” Gallese says. “At the root, as humans we identify the person we’re facing as someone like ourselves.”
The supervisor felt and understood my pain and that was evident in the way she framed her conversation with me, which was full of sincerity. She proved she was committed by letting me know that she was sorry, she has a solution and that unfortunately I may have to wait a little longer because her system was slow. She did not offer any defense for the non-responsiveness from her colleagues, instead acknowledged, that the non-responsiveness was not something that should have happened.
I clearly had run out of patience and both Wilson and the lady supervisor were patient in listening to me and understanding what the issue was, to be able to resolve it. They sensed my agony and not only acknowledged that they understood it but articulated it in the action they took.
Listening is part of Communication. While listening you need to be aware of the emotions the other person is experiencing so that you can understand what they are going through and do whatever is necessary to help that person out. Wilson understood that I had wasted an immense amount of time and he made sure that the person to whom he was going to transfer the call already knew my agony so that I don’t have to repeat myself. That showed he was aware and he cared.
In showing empathy, you need to be tactful in the way you communicate not only in your words but also in your tone and body language. The supervisor tactfully chose her words, her tone and an action which gave me an assurance that she was genuine and sincere.
Many customer services personnel are apologetic but their apology is a not well-meant or genuine. Both Wilson and the supervisor were honest about the reality, they accepted the reality and at the same time acted in my best interests and resolved my problem.
Desire or wanting to help can only be proved by action and in this case both were true to their commitment. They wanted to help and they did help.
. Using clichés, stereotype slogans and cheap humor is not the way to empathize.
you are able to treat others the way they would want to be treated,
you’ll be able to better deal with negativity by understanding the fears and motivators of others and
you’ll be able to inspire, influence and persuade others.
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