Technical skills and knowledge are undoubtedly crucial for an agent. Yet, one factor most people overlook is empathy in customer service. It can make a big difference in how clients perceive your brand! 

According to our survey, agents' lack of compassion often drives customers away, even when their technical issues are properly addressed. Let us explain why.

Benefits Of Showing Customer Empathy In Customer Service

Your genuine empathy prevents the situation from escalating further (Source). 

Building Trust

When you acknowledge their emotions, you validate their experience. It shows them that their disappointment is properly addressed and you are truly invested in helping them find a solution.

That way, customers will realise there's an actual human side to your brand and not just a faceless corporation. As a result, they will be more likely to trust you and your customer service team in the long run.

Diffusing Tense Situations

Acknowledging their emotions is always the best approach, no matter how upset (or even angry) the customer might feel. Your genuine empathy for customers will take the wind out of their sails and prevent the situation from escalating further!

As you show them how you understand their pain point, the customer feels less like they're just venting and more like you're working together to find a solution. This results in a major shift in focus for both parties, in which the customer finally calms down and becomes more receptive to your suggestions.

Reduce Customer Churn

Needless to say, customers who feel heard and understood are very likely to be satisfied with the service they receive! 

Empathy personalises your customer service interaction with them and shows that you genuinely care about them as individuals. After all, who wants to be treated as just a mere number? When customers realise their business is truly valued here, they won't defect to another competitor (or at least not do so very soon). 

You can even take it one step further and identify potential customer issues before they become churn triggers. Proactive, empathy-based solutions like these will prevent problems effectively and keep customers happy.

Increase Sales

With a deep understanding of customer's goals, you will easily identify opportunities to recommend extra products or services that might be a good fit! 

Of course, you are not pushing unnecessary products here but, rather, offering solutions that truly boost the customer's existing purchase. Genuine care can guide you to tailor such recommendations more relevantly, which increases the chances of a successful upsell or cross-sell.

Most importantly, through long-term trust, you will eventually become a trusted advisor in the customer's eyes. Simply put, they will be much more open-minded to future sales pitches or suggestions coming from you, now that they know you truly care about customer satisfaction.

Over the years, this intimate relationship will foster customer loyalty and, thus, translate to repeat business! Better, satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your company to others, generating even more sales leads.

How Some Agents Fail To Show Empathy In Customer Service

Mismatching styles between both parties create a huge barrier to clear communication (Source). 

Not Actively Listening

Without truly listening to customers, an agent will easily miss key details about the ongoing problem. This lack of empathy can lead to irrelevant solutions or, worse, a complete misunderstanding of the issue in the first place! 

From our experience, the frustration of not being heard is even more off-putting than the original issue.

Signs of no active listening:

  • Cutting off the customer before they finish their explanation
  • Jumping to conclusions before fully understanding the issue
  • Summarising the situation inaccurately 
  • Excessive talking 
  • No clarifying questions at all

Not Validating Customers' Feelings

When you (or your customer care team) downplay customer frustration, you send the message that their emotions don't matter. 

Feeling like their concerns are being brushed aside, frustrated customers will understandably become more defensive - which makes it twice as hard to find a solution. Worse, the whole situation will escalate quickly to something else!

Signs to look out for:

  • Phrases like "Don't worry, it's not a big deal" or "It could be worse." 
  • Placing blame on the customer: "There must have been something you did wrong," "If you followed the instructions carefully, this wouldn't have happened." 
  • Generic, canned responses that don't address the specific situation.

Not Apologising Sincerely

Sometimes, your company may be directly responsible for the customer's problem. However, a weak or insincere apology fails to take ownership where applicable. The angry customers will see it as a sign that you refuse to make things right and don't recognise your role in the issue. 

Given the non-existent bridge of understanding between both parties, resolving the problem will be downright impossible.

Signs of an insincere apology:

  • Phrases like "I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused" lack specificity.
  • Deflecting blame: "We can't control everything, but we'll try to fix it." 
  • Conditional apologies that hinge on customers' actions, "I'm sorry if we weren't clear in our instructions."
  • No apology at all

Not Matching Clients' Communication Style

People communicate differently; some prefer a direct and concise approach, while others value a more empathetic tone. 

Mismatching styles between both parties create a huge barrier to clear communication and make the customer feel disengaged from the discussion. They will likely become less cooperative or, worse, withdraw completely, making it extremely difficult to get to the root of the dilemma.

Signs of mismatched communication styles:

  • Using technical terms or industry jargon while the customer seems confused
  • Being overly formal with a customer who prefers a casual conversation (or vice versa)
  • Speaking too quickly for a customer who seems hesitant or too slowly for someone who looks eager

Tips To Boost Your Agents' Empathy In Customer Service

Customer feedback reveals areas where your agents might fall short (Source). 

Show Them How To Use Empathetic Language And Tone

Don't just tell your customer service representatives to use positive language. Give them concrete examples! You can include phrases like "I understand your frustration," "Let's work together to find a solution," or "I'm happy to help."

Some role-playing sessions also allow customer service agents to practise using positive language in different scenarios. They will feel much more confident and comfortable in difficult situations in the future.

If negative information cannot be avoided, try to help your customer service reps reframe these phrases into something more positive. For instance, instead of saying, "We can't do that," an agent could say, "Here are some alternative options we can discuss."

Communicate Clearly

There must be clear and comprehensive policies that outline how agents should handle various customer service scenarios. It would be even better if you could provide ongoing training to reinforce company expectations and keep agents up-to-date on policy changes!

An open-minded work culture where agents and supervisors can freely communicate also helps. They will feel more encouraged to ask questions and clarify any uncertainties.

Analyse And Measure Customer Feedback

Customer feedback reveals areas where your agents might fall short. Do they use negative language too often, fail to acknowledge customer concerns, or rush to solutions?

With this analysis, you will easily pinpoint specific areas where empathy training is needed. From there, the training programs can be adjusted to address the most pressing concerns. 

StringeeX will be a great tool for feedback gathering. It monitors customers and brand mentions across all channels (social media, website, email, chatbot, etc.) without the need to switch platforms. You can even listen to recordings of agent-customer conversations to see where things went wrong.


When technical expertise isn't enough to solve the customer's problem immediately, a caring and compassionate attitude can fill the shoes. That's why it's very important to train your agents in empathy in customer service approaches! Contact us if you need more advice.