In this article I show you what empathy is using an experience with my teenage daughter, and then I deliver 4 tactical ideas you can apply right now to express empathy: Put yourself in your customer’s place, Sense the Situation From the Customer’s Perspective, Discuss What’s Upsetting the Customer, and Coming Up with Ways to Fix the Problem
My daughter and I were in New York. We’d spent the day sight-seeing, and back at the hotel, my daughter’s iPhone showed all of her photos as blurry – not just the photos she’d taken that day, but every picture on her phone.
To my 17-year old daughter, a problem with photos and her phone camera is catastrophic. It would have been easy for me to dismiss this as, “There are bigger things in life for you to worry about.” And that was my real temptation. But I could see she was distraught over this.
Empathy is putting yourself in another person’s place. Sensing their situation, from their perspective. It’s also discussing the things that are upsetting to the person, maybe coming up with ideas to get them out of the situation they’re in.
So, instead of dismissing my daughter’s photo problem as no big deal (because to me, it wasn’t a big deal), I chose empathy.
I put the book down that I was reading, picked up my MacBook and I did a quick Google search on “Blurry iPhone Photos.” Right away I found that this is a common problem and that a setting on the iPhone compresses pictures to save phone storage when space is getting dangerously low.
I showed my daughter what I found and she was able to follow the steps to get back some of her storage and get back to getting good quality photos.
What I did with my daughter – that’s empathy. Let’s take a closer look at empathy using the same approach I used with my daughter.
We’ll use a customer service example. Your customer is upset because their shipment didn’t arrive, though you show that the package was left on the customer’s porch 2 days ago. Express empathy to this customer using the same steps I took with my daughter.
1. Put yourself in the customer’s place
See yourself in the customer’s shoes – and you just experienced the same problem they’re telling you about.
2. Sense the situation from your customer’s perspective
How would you feel if your package was delivered, but apparently to the wrong address? Maybe you’re panicking because you fear you have lost the package and lost the money spent on the product. Maybe you’re angry?
3. Discuss the things that are upsetting to your customer
Maybe that’s saying something as simple as, “I realize this whole thing is frustrating for you. Rest assured, we will track the package down and get it to you right away, or we’ll ship a replacement to you.”
4. Come up with ideas to get them out of the situation they’re in
In this step, you look for a way to help fix the issue the customer is experiencing. For my daughter, that was me doing an online search for answers. In this example, it might be verifying the address, or explaining to the customer the next steps you’ll take to get the order delivered.
Empathy is simpler than a lot of people think. It’s just putting yourself in another person’s place. Sensing their situation, from their perspective. Talking through the things that are upsetting them, and coming up with ideas to fix the issue.