Be genuinely empathetic [Step 2]: 5 Steps to Diffusing an Angry Customer
Don’t fake this step, most of the time it will blow up in your face. To be in this field, you really need to have a genuine concern for people and helping them. Now, we can think through how we interact with customers to allow the customer to understand our empathy.
If we already have genuine empathy, why should we try to learn a system for talking to people? Shouldn’t we speak from the heart and not a system?
Have you ever talked with someone who is going through a tough time, you’re heart has genuine empathy toward what they are going through, but you just don’t know what the appropriate words should be? Being genuinely empathetic not only means your heart is in the right place, but that you care about the words you use and desire to work at using them well.
We’re going to draw on a helpful Customer Service framework called the “3 A’s of Customer Service.” These 3 A’s are “Acknowledge, Align, and Assure.” At first, you may feel fake thinking through statements to hit all your A’s when talking with customers. However, it is a necessary step to to form good habits. You’ll find yourself not only naturally creating these statements to customers but to friends and family.
It’s like magic.
You can visibly see people change their body language, put their guard down, become comfortable with you, and work together to solve their issue. I’ve seen angry people, yelling, completely transform and become gentle, soft spoken, happy, and cracking jokes after a simple statement or two around this structure.
Ok, here’s the meat…
First, we need to just acknowledge the customer’s problem. A simple statement like “I understand your computer isn’t starting up and you’re concerned about loosing your files.”
Secondly, we need to align ourselves with the customer. This changes the interaction from a “you and I” conversation to an “us” conversation. It lets the customer know that you’re thinking about the problem from their perspective. Best way is to share a similar story where you were in their position (or closely related), “I remember a time when my computer went down in college, I was working on big project and was afraid I had lost all my hard work” or it can be as simple as saying “I can see how that’d be make you nervous, I’d feel the same way.”
Finally, you can’t leave the interaction in that place. You must assure the customer that they are talking to the right person and they will get help. A simple statement could be “you’re in the right place, we can get you fixed up.” Or “I’m glad you came to me. We’ll get your computer repaired and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re files are there when we’re done.”
Here’s what it sounds like…
It sounds like a lot in these 3 steps to empathy. However, all three can be used in 1 simple statement, or several–whatever feels the most natural. The order doesn’t matter as much as making sure you’re positioning yourself properly with your customer. A single statement can be as easy as this, “I understand your computer isn’t starting up and you’re concerned about loosing your files [acknowledge]. I remember a time when I was in a similar scenario and I was anxiously waiting to hear if my files were still there [align]. But, you’re in the right place. I don’t want to keep you anxiously waiting any more than you have to, so we’ll take a look and give you a call as soon as we have more information for you [assure].”
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