Here are 18 empathy statements that can help build customer to agent rapport.
“Empathy is different from sympathy. Empathy is the ability to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” — while sympathy is feeling the same feelings as the customer and agreeing with them. A person feels sympathy — but shares empathy.”
With thanks to David Filwood, Principal Consultant at TeleSoft Systems.
What is an empathy statement?
Empathy statements are short phrases that help you establish a connection with the person you are talking to. They show that the other person is your sole focus and that you are taking personal responsibility for them in this conversation.
They help create trust and mutual understanding.
What should be included?
The words “I” and “you” are essential in empathy statements for irate customers, as well as other types of challenging customers, as will be highlighted later.
When you use personal pronouns (and especially “I” rather than a more corporate “we”) the listener understands that you are personally involved and interested in them as an individual. They feel that you understand their situation and that you want to help them as a priority.
Compare: “This will be resolved by our team” with: “I will ask our team to resolve this.”
The first version is anonymous, lacking personality and has no underlying responsibility, whilst the second makes you believe that there is a real person actively working to fix an issue, and who might physically chase the team until it is done.
So, replace passive verbs with active verbs, which add a sense of immediacy.
Be genuine, honest and be yourself. Reading standard empathy phrases without being authentic creates resentment and can increase anger. It is more important to be natural, calm and positive than to get the exact phrasing correct.
Authenticity means using a natural tone, and less formal ways of speaking.
Use “thanks” instead of “thank you”; “hi” instead of “hello”; “enjoy the rest of your day” instead of “good bye”. Use contractions/short forms of verbs: you’re, can’t, he’s, don’t, etc.
This is essential for building empathy in customer service.
Thanks to Matthew MacLachlan, Head of Intercultural and Communication Skills Training at Learnlight
More Quick Tips for Showing Empathy
Before we get into our empathy statement examples, the video below contains some great tips for how you can show empathy using the above tips – and some more great, original advice.
In the following video, Neil Martin of The First Word shares some of his favourite empathy phrases and how to blend them into apology letters and emails.
Empathy statements – Assessing the situation
“Can you tell me a little more about it, please?”
The first duty of an agent when handling a customer query is to assess the situation. When doing so, the agent should use empathetic statements to convey their interest in and attentiveness to the customer’s enquiry. These two empathy phrases will help advisors to do so:
1. “Is there anything I can do for you today, big or small?”
Assuring the customer of your desire to resolve their complaint should allow them to recognise your care and understanding for the individual’s problems.
2. “Can you tell me a little more about it, please?”
Establishing that you want to extract as much information as possible from the customer indicates your attentiveness and curiosity in the matter at hand. However, you must be careful that advisors are being respectful when using this line!
Clarifying the situation
“When I am done, if I have got something wrong, I would appreciate it if you would correct me, if that is ok?”
Once your advisor has all such information at their fingertips, the situation must next be clarified to ensure that your frontline worker and their customer are both “on the same page”. Here, empathy statements are vital so that the customer does not get frustrated at having to repeat themselves. These two remarks will allow the agent to avoid this.
3. “I want to make sure that I really have an understanding of what you’re telling me. I’m hearing that…”
Expressing the desire to listen deeply to the customer, by giving them the opportunity to correct your understanding of their query, reinforces the customer–advisor connection.
4. “When I am done, if I have got something wrong, I would appreciate it if you would correct me, if that is ok?”
Involving the customer in the process of clarifying and solving their enquiry allows them to feel encouraged as to its progress and does not leave them “stuck in the middle”.
If the situation is especially difficult, some more great statements can be found in the following article: 27 Positive Statements to Use In Difficult Situations
Reassuring the customer
“We will help you get this issue resolved”
When the advisor has a full understanding of the matter at hand, that individual should make the process of what happens next clear to the customer. This involves reassuring the customer that the company is striving to resolve their issue and further building customer–advisor rapport. The three empathy statements below demonstrate how to do so.
5. “Thank you very much for alerting us about this…”
Highlighting that your company appreciates feedback, whilst alluding to the notion that you’d like to act on it, demonstrates your will to relieve them of any future hassle.
6. “We will help you get this issue resolved”
Reaffirming the intention for a quick and appropriate resolution again builds rapport. But the use of the word “we” also indicates that it is a team effort and that you are prioritising the matter.
7. “You’re absolutely correct, Sir/Madam”
Displaying respect and empathy for the customer’s opinions demonstrates the advisor’s consideration for their client’s predicament.
Tip – As well using respectful, compassionate and attentive language to empathise with the customer, reassuring noises can also serve for same purpose. Pure silence on the agent’s part can cause the customer to feel helpless, so agents should use such noises to assure the client of their focus and understanding.
Providing a sense of immediacy
Whist reassuring the customer of their enquiry’s importance to the business, it is also important for advisors to provide them with a sense of immediacy. This is particularly important for angry customers.
In order to minimise customer frustration at spending too long on the phone, your agents should use the five empathy statements for irate customers to alleviate such feelings on behalf of the client and demonstrate a caring approach.
8. “I appreciate you bringing this to our attention, so that we can deal with this immediately”
Recognising the urgency of the query and assuring the client that they were right to contact the advisor allows the customer to believe that all their efforts are valued by your company.
Thanks to Nicola Brookes at Vonage
9. “I can see where the problem is, Sir/Madam…”
Conveying the advisor’s experience in handling calls of this nature provides the customer with a strong indication of the ability of the call centre professional to find a swift solution to the query.
10. “What I’m currently doing to help you is…”
Your taking control of the situation allows the customer to feel as if the problem has been “lifted from them”, and by phrasing the empathy statement in this way, you are personalising the matter and making the customer feel special.
11. “This should be fixed by the end of the weekend, Mr Smith”
Providing a close, but realistic, timeframe for when a customer query can be answered, if it cannot be solved immediately, should again take responsibility away from the customer and allow them to relax.
Making a commitment
“Do let us know if you have any further questions, Mr Smith”
As well as reassuring the customer and providing them with a sense of immediacy, making a commitment to them helps to comfort customers with the knowledge that their issue is being treated. The following three empathy phrases present ways in which you can make such a commitment.
12. “I will contact you as soon as we have had an update”
Making a commitment such as this and then following it up should help you to establish a basis of trust between the company and the customer, which helps in forming a long-standing relationship.
13. “We will work to resolve the problem. You just enjoy your (birthday/holidays/Christmas break, etc.), and I will be in touch shortly”
Acknowledging a customer’s personal holidays and future plans allows your advisor to add a personal touch to the interaction, and basing your actions around a customer’s schedule demonstrates an empathetic approach.
14. “Do let us know if you have any further questions, Mr Smith”
Encouraging future contact helps to show your company’s commitment to strengthening your relationship with the customer and fosters the progression of the customer–agent rapport.
Maintaining strong customer relations
After the process has run its course, there is a chance that the customer will not be completely impressed by the answers that they have received. In such a situation, building an empathetic atmosphere is key to maintaining strong customer relations. The two examples below will help to quell such issues and rebuild customer faith in your business’s processes.
15. “We always value customers who are keen to give us their feedback. I will be sure to pass on what you have told me to our managerial team”
Exhibiting that you are proactive when receiving criticism and that your advisors are in constant communication with their superiors helps to assure aggrieved customers that the right procedures are in place to handle their complaints.
16. “I have experienced a similar problem recently, so I understand what you are saying. Let me see what I can do to help you out”
Drawing on their own experiences singles the advisor out from the company that the customer feels aggravated by. Then, by signalling that the problem has now gone, the advisor has demonstrated that a solution is available.
Thanks to Neil Wilkins, Telesales and Customer Service Coach/Trainer
Closing the call
Now that the call is coming to a close, agents must still maintain a respectful tone and maintain their empathetic attitude so that customers feel comfortable voicing more concerns and stay satisfied with the service received. The next two empathy statements are crucial in signing off with a customer and staying empathetic.
17. “Is there anything else that I can help you with today, Mr Smith?”
Demonstrating that there are no time limits in the job description of your agents, this phrase illustrates that there are not company constraints on providing great customer service.
18. “Your satisfaction means everything to us. Have we covered everything that you wanted to discuss today?”
Reminding customers of the business’s ever-willing support for them helps to conclude with a sustained empathetic approach, and the use of the word “us” summarises the collaborative culture on which empathy is based.
Empathy is a great tool to help show customers that you are on their side.
The empathy statements presented above are great for this and can be used in many different difficult customer situations.
To finish up, here’s a graphic showing are some of our favourite empathy statements, which can really work well in any customer service environment.
We hope they serve you well!
For more on the topic of building empathy in the contact centre, read our articles: