Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of another person and is vital for those working in customer service. For businesses today, hiring individuals who not only specialize in a certain skillset, but also have high emotional intelligence has become fundamental to success. Recent research shows that companies which ingrain empathy as part of their strategy grow and evolve much faster than companies that pay little regard to it. The Empathy Index may be a new concept for many companies, but its scope is ever-expanding. Here are some ways that companies can incorporate empathy within their organizational culture.

Create the Right Questions and Statements

The more clarifying questions you ask, the more you know about a person’s needs, wants, interests and situation. Leaders and employees can develop empathy by active listening and understanding what the people they’re engaging might be thinking or aiming for. Companies must train their employees to increase their emotional intelligence, so they phrase the right kind of questions and statements to efficiently communicate with customers. Training employees is a step in the right direction to achieve customer service excellence. The main purpose of clarifying questions and statements is to make the customers feel heard and understood. Destructive questions should be avoided at all costs. These would include questions such as, “Are you trying to insinuate that this problem is my fault?”

Experience Before You Cater

The service or product improvement plan should be executed in three stages: Start off by hearing out your customers and employees. This is crucial if you plan to provide a premium customer service experience. Second to that would be getting in their shoes and seeing how you, being a user, interact with a certain product. This step is just as important, if not more so, as the first step. The third step is where you finally make the changes as per customer feedback. A proper platform, like a product testing laboratory, can be used to experiment with the products and get a better understanding of how the customers will interact with them. Doing so helps incorporate empathy in your company’s overall strategy.

Create a Learning Trend

Empathy can be inculcated in the personnel of your company by encouraging and developing a learning culture. It’s about time that the obsolete notion that leaders know everything and should be on top of their game all the time be discarded, accepting the fact that customer service and market trends are changing and evolving everyday; keeping yourself updated with these trends provides businesses the opportunity to grow.

People desire creative independence along with greater personalization, hence the concept of modern workplace culture is to provide employees with a space where they get to lay their own path, while also getting guidance.

Lastly, taking into account the recent debate of ongoing feedback having a clear advantage over annual business review, the verdict would be that it doesn’t really matter. Whether you’re pro annual review or you deem ongoing feedback the way, you should be learning constantly. Leaders should encourage and welcome different opinions, since knowledge has a number of routes to flow within a company — laterally, vertically, between groups and even organizations, and oppositions help formulate superior ideas through brainstorming. When your employees and colleagues know that their suggestions are respected, appreciated and welcomed, it’s sure to exude positivity and empathy in your work environment.

Provide Transparency

Today, customers expect to be kept in the loop regarding the happenings that take place in the background. Transparency not only influences customer relations, but also has a direct impact on your business partner relations.

Transparency begins with your company’s story — customers want to know who you are, where you come from and what fuels your game. Invest in digital content that tells your brand story, your beliefs, your vision and the things you stand for as a brand. Every bit of content written should be kept in accordance with that story, for the goal is to embody your vision and voice.

Listen to ‘Them Haters’

Don’t look at customer complaints as some kind of offense or threat, instead, see them as an emotional insight into your business fabric, an opportunity to not only fix the latent problem and satisfy the irate customers, but also to provide a much better service to the next batch of customers. Hence, complaints, no matter how harsh they may be, are a gift, and those haters serve as an early warning system which you did not even pay for, but is more valuable than you know.

Companies must work on coming up with ways to handle and learn from feedback. One way of handling would be checking back with the agitated customer after providing a solution to show your concern and see if there is anything else you could help them with.

What It All Boils Down To

It all boils down to the fact that empathy is a skill not easy to acquire, but to survive in the thriving market where options for customers and professionals are endless, it has become a necessity. Building a decent empathy quotient garners results of monumental proportions and starting off by making small changes, empathy can be prioritized and channeled through the whole architecture of the business. It must be inspired in the personnel on all levels, in customer-employee interactions and the working of the company.