Emotions and Empathy Training for Your Contact Center Agents

Written by KOVA Corp

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could read minds? We’d always know what people were thinking and how they were feeling. We’d know how to respond to them in order to get the best possible outcome.

Unfortunately for those us living in reality and working in contact center customer service, we have to make do with more prosaic methods of learning how to deal with people: contact center customer service training. It’s important to invest in call agent training that emphasizes the significance of being empathetic with callers and their emotional responses, as it can aid in improving your call center’s metrics and reaching your business’ KPIs. Here are a few key concepts that your call center agents need to be aware of:

Agents need to empathize with the customer on the purpose of the call

It is necessary for agents to empathize with customers on the purpose of their call and any potential unfriendly attitudes.

Normally, customers contact call centers to either resolve an issue or to complete a task, such as troubleshooting technical issues or paying credit card bills, neither of which are enjoyable experiences. That’s the reason behind unpleasant call experiences. By having this understanding, agents can better aid customers by directly focusing on issue resolutions rather than attitude correction.

Don’t take the customer’s negative emotions personally

A common complaint that call agents bring up is the unpleasant or even uncooperative attitude that customers can have during calls.

During training, it’s essential to stress that agents don’t lose their composure because of the caller’s negative or confrontational tone - especially since it will only worsen the situation and create an even greater conflict. Clients are simply frustrated by the issue and not directly at the agent themselves.

Provide direction for both the customer and the call

Most unhappy callers just need a minute or two to get things off their chest before introducing their problem to the agent. However, it’s also critical that agents don’t allow them to go off topic or vent for too long, as they can aggravate themselves further and unnecessarily prolong the call duration.

Agents need to be trained in effectively managing difficult customer’s emotions and attention. One method is to interrupt them, but acknowledge their feelings and refocus them on the task at hand. For example, the agent can say: “I’m sorry to hear how frustrating this experience has been for you. However, I will work with you on resolving this. Please tell me what the issue is.”

Be positive and attentive throughout the entire call

As difficult as it may be, it’s essential that agents maintain a positive tone throughout the call. Not only will the caller pick up on this, but it can influence their feelings and create a more pleasant call experience.

Agents also need to be trained in attentive listening techniques, such as using verbal cues (“yes,” “ah,” “ok”) and avoiding interrupting the caller as they are explaining the issue. These techniques also benefit agents by building rapport with the caller. Making callers an active participant of the process shows them that they are being heard. In turn, they will generally become more cooperative.

Agent training is a vital part of running a successful contact center. For more on agent training, read our post “5 Ways to Make Your Contact Center Training More Efficient and Effective.”

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