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Is agent empathy in call centers something you can improve with scripting? I am especially curious about call center agents who deal with customer assistance in emergencies. Or is empathy something you need to work on by getting reps to “feel” more empathetic on the phone, which will translate into the entire conversation with the customer? What do you think is the best approach?

Is agent empathy in call centers something you can improve with scripting? I am especially curious about call center agents who deal with customer assistance in emergencies. Or is empathy something you need to work on by getting reps to “feel” more empathetic on the phone, which will translate into the entire conversation with the customer? What do you think is the best approach?

8/29/2007

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Question
Is agent empathy in call centers something you can improve with scripting? I am especially curious about call center agents who deal with customer assistance in emergencies. Or is empathy something you need to work on by getting reps to “feel” more empathetic on the phone, which will translate into the entire conversation with the customer? What do you think is the best approach?

Answer
Empathy is a human emotion that is difficult to teach. Call center scripts are effective for directing conversations, but not for communicating empathy. To the contrary, call center agents who are forced to adhere to the exact wording of a script often sound stilted.

Agents who express a real understanding of a customer’s issue — an emergency situation, family tragedy or the need for an immediate loan — are effectively displaying empathy in their customer service. Repeatedly telling a customer that “you feel their pain,” while reading from a script, is very different. Customers relate better to call center agents who demonstrate genuine supportiveness and are there to help the customer throughout an interaction. This is true for all customer service interactions and it’s even more important in emergency or emotional situations.

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