Using Empathy in Really Hostile Customer Service Situations

In previous articles, I’ve looked at using empathy as a tool in handling both routine and awkward customer service situations. Yet, as anyone working in this field knows, extremely angry and hostile customers come with the customer experience. We hear horror stories of employees reduced to the point of tears over a mean-spirited complaint, so the question is: how to use empathy in these situations?

First, it’s important to realize you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Just accept it, but try every chance you can to please a customer. As with the usual empathy techniques, apologize profusely for the problem, and sympathize. While some customers are complaining just to hear themselves talk, others have a justified reason for complaining, and these are the ones you need to show the most empathy with. After apologizing and sympathizing, get down to work on fixing their problem, be it replacing a product, or fixing it. Hopefully, you will be able to a potentially bad and down right hostile situation and spin it in such a way that everyone goes home happy. Empathy is a valuable tool in doing just this.

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