How the 3 areas of empathy can improve customer relationships

There are three areas of empathy: emotional, cognitive, and compassionate. Mastering these areas often translates into positive feedback and brand loyalty. If you label your business as empathetic, tracking actions will ensure that authenticity. Brands continue to understand the importance of empathy in business. Hybrid work environments test a company’s strength of empathy in its day-to-day operations. Many overlook the deep meaning of empathy. The way it is applied in your daily actions can separate your brand from its competition. Here’s how your customer support team can make sure their actions match the brand’s message.

Sensing the emotions of customers is part of emotional empathy. This includes picking up subtle clues in email tones and in phone conversations. People skilled in emotional empathy are able to spot body language signals that convey information. Being able to identify them quickly shows a good understanding of emotional empathy.

Others may confuse empathy with sympathy and adaptive selling. Adaptive selling can lead to responses that ignore the emotional touch needed to support the customer. This can be felt by customers or potential customers. This can be a reason for them to see your brand as a brand whose actions do not match its brand image as empathetic. Training those who are the first points of contact to process an order is very important. The most effective training emphasizes the application of empathy in actions and communications.

Being able to sense clients’ emotional cues should lead to excellence in cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy allows team members to see the client’s situation from their perspective. The best customer service teams are good listeners. Their solutions are accepted faster and implemented more easily. Mastery of cognitive empathy is based on understanding what the client is feeling. Many times customers call for help and receive the standard prompt response from team members. Empathy is not shown in these cases. This usually results in multiple points of contact with a business before resolving the issue. The client can be emotionally charged at this point when asked the same questions over and over. At times like these, the call requires an unscripted human response. Using cognitive empathy early on can reduce customer frustration. And using compassionate responses with facts can often help emotionally charged customers to disengage.

Cognitive empathy is heavily weighted across all three domains. An example of cognitive empathy is a team member admitting to the client that they do not fully understand the situation, rather than assuming that a standard response to a single situation will suffice. Use cognitive empathy to defuse emotionally charged clients who may not have the proper facts on their emotional call. Remember to provide the answer with compassionate empathy.

Albert Schweitzer was quoted as saying, “The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and willingness to help others. Being able to smell, hear and understand the customer and provide a solution shows a basic understanding of empathy. Offering what is cognitively understood with compassionate empathy will bring you from good knowledge to mastery of empathy. In short, it is the way in which information is shared with the customer that allows them to feel listened to. Mastering cognitive and compassionate empathy can help a team member when time is limited to pick up emotional cues from clients.

Fluency in all three areas increases the chances that your business will be seen as empathetic. Assuming revenue teams show this same level of empathy in their engagement, customer support will rely more on the actions of the company using empathy. Empathy in action is the way of the future.

Joseph P. Harris