Using Empathy in an Awkward Customer Service Situation

I’ve often spoken highly of empathy as a valuable tool for enhancing the customer experience. It allows you to get inside the customer’s head, see things from their perspective and offer them a great customer service experience. But what about when we’re faced with a truly awkward customer service situation? How can empathy help us there?

Most customer issues are routine in nature, and can be handled with a minimal amount of fuss, but some just defy logic. On their excellent blog, Help Scout recalls an incident in which a customer asked to bring their cat into a hotel, against hotel policy. The desk clerk refused the request, but offered to search for a place the cat could stay. Even though they turned the customer’s initial request down, they showed empathy for them, and helped spin in a positive fashion what could have quickly escalated into a negative situation. Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say “no,” but that doesn’t always mean totally turning the customer away—it requires you to use your empathy to find a way to work around the “no.”

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