With news able to spread like wildfire through social media, quality customer service training to promote empathy has never been more crucial. The theory is simple. Customers love telling people about negative experiences, and with the world at their fingertips, you can end up with a ruined reputation in record time.
But focusing on the positive, empathy allows your team to understand and share the feelings of your customers, leading to more personalized and compassionate interactions. As a result, they’re far more likely to understand a client’s concern, be respectful throughout the conversation, and solve problems efficiently.
But that leads us to an obvious question: How do you go about training customer service teams to breed a culture of empathy?
That’s exactly what we’re going to deal with in this article. To accommodate in-office and remote teams, we’ve got 10 virtual activities to enhance empathy in your customer service representatives. We’ve covered a wide range of strategies, so put on your thinking cap and identify the ones that will work best for you.
Newsflash: emotions are notoriously hard to understand. With everybody living in their own reality made up of individual nature and nurture, one person’s idea of empathy could be starkly different from yours, so don’t assume you’re all speaking the same emotional language. For our first step in this area of customer service training, we’d recommend a level-setting session to understand what behaviors you’re looking for.
Write down a few interactions or videos if you have the technology and the know-how. Each scenario should show different ways of dealing with a situation, from obviously antagonistic to polite but not empathetic reactions. To turn it into a virtual exercise, create a multiple-choice quiz that allows your team to identify what kind of behavior they see. If there are major discrepancies between answers, discuss as a team to come to a united conclusion.
When everybody is on the same page about what empathy is, all the following activities will fall into place seamlessly.
To fully embrace empathy in your customer service, you need to get your team to buy into your vision. And sure, a presentation on the virtues of empathy is one way of doing it. But a more practical and enjoyable way is to ask for examples from your team.
Everybody has had an experience where empathy — or a lack of it — has changed the direction of a customer service interaction. Call a virtual meeting a week in advance, with a message telling your participants to come up with a positive example of empathy in customer service and a negative one. With a team of five, that’s ten different but relatable experiences that you can pick apart and analyze in your customer service training to show the importance of empathy in your team.
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Start by considering your customer’s pain points when they come to you and what frame of mind they will put them in. Let’s take setting up a subscription for diapers as an example. Parents often have enough to juggle without needing to read through elaborate copy just to get to what they need, so keep the steps simple. However, if you’re selling sunset yacht trips, some seductive videos, and photos would be far more acceptable.
Of course, you don’t just have to use your imagination for this customer service training exercise. You’ve already got a database of contacts, so reach out to them and offer an incentive to participate in a focus group. Whether your customers live on the same street or on the other side of the world, you can schedule individual or group sessions and get to know the real people who are using your services.
When you put a face to your customer base and actively listen to their pain points, needs, and desires, you quickly learn to relate to them, thus improving empathy among your team.
When you’re inside a business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking everything makes sense and works seamlessly. Because, of course, it does — you’re dealing with your product on a daily basis. But one easy way to put yourself in someone else’s shoes through customer service training is to follow the entire customer journey from a third-party perspective. By giving yourself a customer persona, taking a critical approach, and following the journey from start to finish, you can spot areas of potential frustration and get to work solving them.
With sales management software, you can break up your customer journey into smaller components and analyze each of them in turn. Identify any confusion, pain points, and emotions you would experience on the way and create a task list for changes. This is one of the more technical virtual activities to enhance empathy in your team, but when you address every aspect of your strategy, you stand a greater chance of improving your overall customer experience.
Training customer service doesn’t always have to be serious. Similar to the previous point on being too familiar with your own products, it’s easy to slip into professional jargon that new customers simply won’t understand. And being empathetic isn’t just about identifying with emotions; it’s also about rectifying practical difficulties that can lead to a bad experience.
There are a whole host of variations on the jargon game. You can listen back to recorded calls and give points to the first person to identify overly technical words. Alternatively, give each agent ten points per week and subtract one every time they use jargon. The winner is the one with the most weekly tokens.
With these lighthearted but effective team training activities, you can train valuable empathetic habits while keeping your team engaged and motivated.
Continuously analyzing feedback is a crucial part of customer service training on the whole, but it is especially important in developing empathy. A one-off angry call could be an anomaly, but when you use CRM analytics and observe patterns in your feedback, it’s time to sit down and take notice.
To perform a structured, methodical customer feedback analysis, follow these steps:
Set up your CRM to segregate feedback by category, e.g., payment issues, faulty products, and unclear instructions.
Analyze the feedback periodically and draw out areas for concern and emerging trends.
Invite your team to an online session to discuss your findings, put themselves in their customer’s shoes, and come up with solutions.
Map out action steps in a project management workflow to improve your approach.
Customer feedback analysis is a tried-and-tested method for developing empathy and taking action to better meet the needs of your customers. With the right CRM system in place, these sessions are easy to run virtually and allow you to adopt a kaizen mindset of continuous improvement.
Role-playing is one of the easiest activities to run either in the office or virtually. Super simple to set up and with myriad benefits, it should be first on every customer service manager’s strategy.
Role-playing allows your team to practice handling different customer scenarios and develop empathy by putting themselves in the customer's shoes. Team members take on the roles of both the customer and the customer service representative, acting out various scenarios such as handling a complaint or resolving a technical issue. This helps them understand the customer's perspective and emotions, leading to more empathetic interactions in real-life situations.
Running role-playing sessions virtually can be just as effective as in-person sessions. All you need is a reliable video conferencing tool that allows your team to interact in real-time. Here are the basic steps of how to set up a virtual role-playing customer service training:
Choose a scenario that mirrors real customer issues
Assign roles to your team members
Run the session by muting observers and giving the floor to the participants
Discuss the emotions, perspectives, and strategies as a group
Rotate roles and re-run the team training
Mindfulness has long since lost its reputation as just a fancy buzzword. Companies all over the world are incorporating mindfulness and meditation into their working weeks to help team members manage emotions, collaborate with a clearer mind, and reduce the likelihood of burnout— all of which add to the building blocks of incorporating empathy into your customer service.
With so many guided mindfulness and meditation apps out there, it’s one of the easiest activities to carry out virtually. However, it’s also one of the first things that managers throw to the wayside when the pressure is on.
Therefore, we’d highly recommend blocking out staggered times in your team calendar and prioritizing them so each team member can get away from the screen and touch base throughout the week.
A more relaxed, understanding workforce will inevitably be more patient with customers and have the mental space necessary to practice effective empathy.
To add a little motivation to the mix, structure your training sessions on the cloud in a knowledge base. This removes any unnecessary blockers like complex login processes or poor navigation. Be sure to praise individuals on their achievements, which you can do automatically with badges that show up on your internal newsfeed. Encourage your team to celebrate and share their achievements and watch the likes roll in from their colleagues.
But why limit your employees’ development? Rather than restricting training to your internal programs, you can open up external customer service training programs and resources at a low cost. There are countless courses and resources online that deal with even the most specific elements of customer service, so if your employees want to go the extra mile, you should be open to facilitating that.
Nobody picks up the phone simply to give your team a hard time, although it often feels like that. There’s almost always an underlying reason for bad behavior, whether it’s financial trouble, family issues, trauma, or repeated poor service.
One way of preparing your team for these flashpoints from your customers is to analyze previous cases and come up with backstories that could explain their rage or unreasonable requests. Everyone on your team will bring their own perspective, creating a plethora of different causes and a greater understanding of future bad interactions.
Collaborative documents make virtual activities like these as easy as pie. Open up a shared file with the prompt at the top, and everybody can write their own backstory simultaneously.
These ten virtual activities will give you and your team a whole lot of food for thought, resulting in a well-rounded step forward for your team.
But while you might have the strategies in mind, do you have the right technology to implement them?
Bitrix24 is an all-in-one business platform that comes packed with tools and features to structure your customer service training.
Video calls to stay in touch with remote teams
Shared documents to collaborate seamlessly
A cloud-based drive to store all your documents
A CRM to track customer requests
Powerful analytics to leverage data and spot trends
So if your team is in need of a boost in empathy, sign up for Bitrix24 today and up your customer service game.
Training helps improve customer service by enhancing skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Team training includes activities to develop empathy, communication, problem-solving abilities, and product knowledge, leading to better customer interactions and satisfaction.
Empathy is important in customer service as it helps team members understand and effectively respond to customer emotions and needs. By showing empathy, team members build trust, rapport, and positive customer relationships, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Virtual activities to enhance empathy include:
These activities help team members understand customer perspectives and emotions, improving their empathetic communication.
To develop empathy in a team, conduct training activities focused on understanding the emotions, perspectives, and needs of others. Role-playing, empathy mapping, personal story-sharing, and emotional intelligence exercises can cultivate empathy and improve interpersonal communication.