The Difference Between Compassion and Empathy in Customer Service…

Empathy in business is bound to ensure you find more results with potential customers than compassion alone.  Having spent over 5 years as a sounding board to customers in a contact center I know without doubt empathy wins. The ability to understand someone’s frustration and thinking goes along way with connecting and eventually successfully servicing your customer.

People know when you are empathetic and when you are scripting. There is a fluid natural way of talking to someone in customer service while trying to truly understand the problem they present you with. When talking to someone and being scripted there is more of a robotic way of interacting that is stilted and even leaves room for not actively listening. Customers will express their aggravations about the situation at hand and if someone is trying to follow a script rather than communicating openly the customer will know instantly and shut down.

There are pitfalls to acting as if you are empathizing too much. You can sound as if you are a broken record if you continually say “I understand” without articulating their problem back to them proving you understood the situation at hand. Empathy is when you have placed yourself in someone else’s emotional shoes. You can connect and understand the range of emotions they are going through because you are putting yourself figuratively in their place.

Sympathy and compassion are feelings but not as powerful or as compelling as empathy. Compassion is a good tool and is the starting board towards learning to be empathic. You would not be able to truly empathize with someone unless you have first learned to have compassion for your fellow-man. Empathy is a step higher than compassion and sympathy.

Empathy tends to be stronger with those who have similar experiences or a strong imagination. If you have not experienced the same situation but can imagine how you would feel should it occur to you then you can successfully empathize with your fellow human. You are able to connect on a higher level with your customer and truly come from a place where you want to solve their problem and build a true rapport with your customer then the end company of increasing their monetary value.

A truly valuable relationship builds on common ground has nowhere to go but to expand and grow. A real commitment and change can spread as fast as discontent. Happy customers are just as likely to spread the word as upset and angry ones will. Empathy not only enables you to better serve your customers but also will enable you to grow and improve within yourself as you connect and understand those around.

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Balancing Life and Work in a Healthy New Year

Welcome to a new year and resolutions abound. I find that I never keep my resolutions so I have stopped making promises I know I do not intend to keep. This does not mean there are habits I should ignore or not strive to improve this year. As a mother to young children and adult step-sons I find the most difficult task is finding a healthy balance between work and life. There are scholarly articles about this very subject. I have stumbled across many social media blog pieces about estimated number of Americans who did not take a vacation day in 2014. There are those who need thrive on working. They relax while doing their job because it fulfills them. Majority of us though are working a job to get from point A to point B. Those of us working for other means are the ones who need to start using our vacation days.

This is not a good way to start another year. The holiday season is over but as parents we are already starting to plan for the next one in the back of our heads. We are seeing everything we want to give to our children and maybe even to ourselves. These ideals and material things wear heavily on us. Because if this we force ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time as we make ends meet or try to propel our careers ahead to this imaginary place where everything will be better.

This mindset of “sacrifice now for a better future” is not real if we are constantly sacrificing now every day but never actually getting to our ideal future. Finding a healthy balance between work and life can help clear the cobwebs and may even motivate you in the areas that need better focus. There are studies that prove taking a vacation day (even just one day!) to rest and recoup makes you a better employee. There is a reason why companies give their employees vacation days. They know their employees who regularly take vacations come back recharged and better than before they left.

There are small ways to make big changes. Taking the time to get up an hour earlier in the morning to spend with your partner, children or even just reading can make a huge difference. There are articles and blogs written by people who have started these small habits and from their own personal experiences have seen the benefits of just taking small amounts of time for themselves. I have found when I have a difficult task at work and I am hitting constant road blocks that the answer comes to me when I least expect it. I have forced myself to go and play with my young children making up silly stories and just laughing with them and all of a sudden the answer to my work problem presents itself. Why? This is because I stopped stressing over it and relaxed. The endorphins cleared the clutter and I was able to think clearly without anxiety because I was calm. This also helps keep us healthy. The more leisure time and rest we give ourselves the more we are able to avoid getting sick especially during the winter months.

You do not have to start a crash diet or make unreasonable promises about going to the gym 7 days a week. Small changes make the difference. Getting up an hour earlier and playing with your kids can help your energy level. Going to bed early instead of staring at your work computer for an extra few hours while not getting anything productive done can make a difference in how well you sleep. Reading before bed can help you fall asleep faster especially if you are reading an actual book instead of a lighted screen. Small baby steps  to change engrained habits is what will make a New Year’s resolution successful and  make you see a difference not only in how productive you are at work but at how much you enjoy your personal time.

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Hard Selling; Please Stop and Listen

Sales and Sales teams all have a job to do. Most companies would go out of business if not for their sales teams. There would be no marketing team, executive management or budget if the sales team is not selling their product and making revenue to pay for everyone’s PTO and benefits packages. As a consumer and someone who has worked alongside sales teams I completely understand the need for sales. That does not mean I agree with some of the tactics involved in selling.

There is no need for constant hard selling. I find that 90% of the time hard selling does not work. There are quite a few industries that seem to be most popular when it comes to jokes about hard selling. There are even clichés about sales people who act as if they are “Car Salesmen”. There are all kinds of clichés including phrases we have all been guilty of using in business across the board whether selling or trying to drive sales internally. That does not mean you hammer away at your consumer until they run screaming from the room or react negatively.

This is something I have been experiencing more often lately. It must be “that time of year”. I can understand what a telemarketer is going through; I use to work in a Contact Center myself. But when you call my house at dinner time and I give you the time to explain what it is you are calling about but end up saying very politely “thank you but I am not interested at this time”. Just say “okay have a good day”. That is not an opening to hammer away at me and try to force me into something I have already declined. This was not an “open door” to negotiate down to a more reasonable amount. It is very simply a “NO”.

The same experience took place at my gym. I am interested in working out with a trainer. I agreed the amount per session was “GREAT” but when I am rubbing my head and telling you as nicely as I can that I am not going to give you a credit card tonight then stop. If I explain I need to discuss the details further with other people and will get back to you as soon as the next day please accept the information I have given you. I did a work out that was intense and extremely tough after having been awake for over 14 hours, worked two jobs and drove 2.5 hours. Hard selling and hammering me while I slowly succumbed to a raging migraine is not going to convince me to continue my work outs with you and your company.

I understand Sales teams are not only responsible for helping customers/consumers get the most out of their product but also are also responsible keeping up their lively hood. I understand the premises of the whole sales process but not at the expense of a potential customer. A previous manager I had did not push our team towards numbers for sales sake she always told us we are servicing our customers. We are not looking at numbers while discussing our customer’s livelihood, we are helping them to get the service they need and can put to use to better their situation.

A successful sales team knows to treat each customer/consumer as the individual they are. When you feel the service and conversation is geared towards your needs and not the company pitching to you, you are more likely to see clearly whether this will in fact be a good purchase or not. Customers, consumers and other businesses want to know how a company or product will benefit them not how they will benefit your sales goals. Hard selling does not work if you forget you are talking to a living breathing person at the same time.


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