Measuring empathy in customer service is like a construction project. But have no fear, you don’t need a permit.
All you need is the right quality assurance tool and we are here to give you the blueprint for building the ultimate scorecard with empathy statements as the foundation.
It’s easy. Even I did it.
Building the infrastructure of scoring customer service teams can be done using the old-fashioned spreadsheets or using Quality software that takes away the tedious strain of filling out sheet after sheet manually.
It’s like comparing a hammer and nails to a nail gun. One takes forever, the other is quick, easy, and direct.
The DIY project needs a foundation put down to secure everything and in this case, a quality scorecard needs to measure empathy and allow the agent to use strong empathy statements that make the customer feel heard.
Freshly, the healthy meal delivery company, uses empathy in their scorecards and according to Susan Mihalick, Customer Experience, Quality Assurance Manager, they have seen direct correlation between their customer satisfaction and their customer service teams.
In a report from Motista, emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value and will stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years.
What is Empathy?
First, let’s take a brief look at empathy in the contact center.
From a customer service perspective, empathy is the ability to have a human interaction with a customer. Ask anyone who has been in customer service for a while and empathy would definitely be a crafted soft skill high on the list for what makes a successful contact center agent.
Agents are in contact with different customers and work to solve their problems. They do this all while making sure they are representing the company. Empathy needs to be the root of those things to create a healthy and long-lasting relationship with a customer.
Empathy Vs. Sympathy
While these terms are similar, there is a difference between empathy and sympathy.
- Empathy: Being able to relate to the person’s situation and thinking about what could be helpful for them in their position. For the customer, it’s about building them up and making them feel great.
- Sympathy: Acknowledging the other person’s situation, but not considering it from their point of view, or considering how to help them. A sympathetic response is telling the person that you’ll help them, then leaping into the DIY project and failing.
Ok, coffee break on the site is over. Pour it back into the Thermos.
Let’s get back to work on building our “House of Scorecards.”
As a contact center manager, you have the ability to forge the customer service scorecard. A solid foundation is essential to any building.
As a call center agent, it’s up to you to add the right tone, phrases, and personality within the framework. This makes up the fancy appliances, lights and character of the structure.
While it takes months to build a house, you can create a QA Scorecard in less time than you think.
Start by going to the Quality portion of your QA tool and then to scorecards, where you’ll find Create a New Scorecard. Use the start from scratch method so you can incorporate your desired empathy questions. (We’ll detail example questions throughout the blog.)
Give your scorecard a title and a brief description. Being specific like “Empathy Scorecard” is an obvious title or “Phone Empathy Scorecard” if you want to use it for just contact by phone. The same for any mode of communication your center has.
Now let’s put some cement down, smooth out the slab, and create the empathy questions that accumulate the score of your agents. By the way, in the scorecard, you can assign a points system with 10 being the highest and 0 the lowest. You can also label created sections like “Greeting” and “Body of Conversation” and “Resolution”. You can also make them “weighted” if you want to make one section more important than the other.
Now let’s build out some questions and go over how to answer them.
Pouring Foundation: Greeting the Customer
Greeting the customer on a call makes a big difference in how the conversation will go. It truly is the bedrock of the call. Scoring based on empathy statements can set the base for the entire conversation.
As the call center manager: Set up the customer service scorecard with an open door toward empathy statements.
- Did the associate use an appropriate opening/closing sentiment?
- Did the associate refer to the customer by their first name within the initial greeting?
- Did the associate greet the customer with “How Can I Help You?”
As the call center agent: Be happy, be kind, and be yourself. Most likely the customer at the other end has an issue they're not happy about and the more positive you are will go a long way toward settling them down.
Start the conversation with several empathy statements.
- With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?
- Hi, this is (name) with (company) and I look forward to helping you.
- Good morning/afternoon, I hope you're having a great day. How can I assist you?
Framework: Show Off Your Personality
The agent has the ability to set the tone of the conversation with how they react after the initial greeting. Being upbeat and casual can show the agent cares about the customer’s issue. By demonstrating empathy, the customer believes the company cares about their issue.
As the call center manager: Don’t score the agent based on a neutral tone, but rather a casual tone. Being neutral is safe, but does not show empathy in customer service. On the other side of the wall, though, your customer service agents do need to understand the customer’s issue and act accordingly.
- Did the associate use a friendly tone with the customer?
- Did the associate assess the customer’s issue and act accordingly?
- Was the associate calm and casual and ease the customer’s mind?
- Did the associate actively listen to the customer?
As the call center agent: Consider the customer’s mood. Yes, the customer may be angry, and you should use proper techniques to rectify the situation. This is where empathy statements come into play, as they work to make the customer feel valued and appreciated.
Empathy statements to use:
- Your business means a lot to us.
- I see you’ve been with [Company Name] for X years. That’s a long time.
- I really appreciate your patience.
Plumbing and Electrical: The Heart of the Customer
Customers are human beings, not numbers. Your company should believe that sentiment when it comes to retention and loyalty. By putting your agents in the customer’s shoes, as it were, the caller feels welcomed and understood.
As the call center manager: During the heart of the conversation is where managers should measure empathy statements. How the agent converses with a customer is a bulk of the conversation and you, as the manager, need to set up the scorecard as a way to aim for that loyalty.
- Did the associate show empathy toward the customer?
- How did the associate empathize with the customer?
- Did the associate agree and make the customer feel better?
As the call center agent: Analyze and feel the customer’s dilemma. What if this were you? Don’t say it’s never happened. You want to put yourself in the shoes of the customer because you’ve been there in some way, shape, or form. Everyone has.
Here are some empathy statements agents should use:
- I would feel X too in that situation.
- You're right.
- I would come to the same conclusion.
Put Up the Drywall: Smoothing Things Out
A customer may still be angry and the worst thing is putting the customer on any kind of hold. Customers want to continue to talk to your agent and being placed in the dark may make the customer angrier.
As the call center manager: Be sure the agent has empathized with the customer and they genuinely care about the customer.
- Did the associate apologize for the issue/concern conveyed by the customer?
- Was the overall tone used by the associate appropriate based on the customer’s tone?
- Did the associate stay in constant communication with the customer?
As the call center agent: Stick with the customer. They not only want to keep you on the line, they want to hear you working on the situation. Keep reaffirming their issue and back it up with your empathy statement confidence.
- I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this…
- If I’m understanding you correctly…
- Let me know if I’m getting the story right…
- I can fix that.
Move-In Ready: First Contact Resolution
The customer is now feeling a little better as your agent begins to work their magic of the situation. This is where the training and knowledge of their job comes into play. The customer is now feeling a little better as your agent begins to solve the issue. However, the agent still needs to show empathy as they work through the customer’s issue.
As the call center manager: When the problem is solved, make sure the agent knows to fully complete the call, make sure the customer is satisfied, and that they offer any other assistance that may be necessary. If the agent is trained properly and is knowledgeable, they need to explain the issue and the cause of what happened.
- Did the associate identify the root of the issue and politely explain the cause?
- Did the associate politely educate the customer about the issue?
- Did the associate properly thank and offer any other assistance to the customer?
- Did the agent properly thank the customer for their time?
As the call center agent: Congrats, you scored a First Contact Resolution! Problem solved. But don’t stop there! Continue with empathy statements to get the best score on your scorecard. Again, after that sigh of relief that you fixed the issue and the customer is satisfied, be casual throughout the conversation.
- Is there anything else, big or small, that I can help you with today?
- Are your X needs being met with our product/service?
- It was my pleasure to help you today and have a great rest of the day. (Or wish them a Happy Holiday if it's that time of the season.)
The scorecard example I created took less than an hour to shape. In my scenario, Agent Andrew earned a high score by keeping the customer happy and using empathy statements. He even made a joke about the dog knocking the plug out of the wall, which made the customer chuckle and his stress dissipate.
Unlike a new home, the scorecards you create don’t have to be set in stone. It’s easy to edit questions or add new ones. Or if you want to change the way the agents are scored or the weight of each section, you can do that as well in just a few minutes.
Scorecards, like the ones at Playvox, can be utilized for phone, chat, email or any kind of channel of communication your company has. You’re also not limited to assigning one manager to score an agent, you can add multiple evaluators and calibrate their scores.
There are an endless amount of easy ways to set up scorecards. We would like to hear from you. How have you set up your scorecards?
Or, are you ready to scale your company’s quality assurance and get a program to measure empathy in your agents? Let us at Playvox know.