Charlotte Ward 0:14
Welcome to Episode One of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward.
For our very first week, we’re talking about empathy and customer support. So listen on for five leaders talking about that very topic.
I would like to welcome as my very first guest on my very first episode of my very first podcast, the lovely Jenny Dempsey. Jenny, would you like to introduce yourself?
Jenny Dempsey 0:45
Hello, I’m Jenny Dempsey. I’m so happy to be here. I am a Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn. I also am the founder of Jenny Dempsey Consulting where I do wellbeing in the workplace workshops and speaking and freelancing fun, thank you so much!
Charlotte Ward 1:07
And it’s fun, right?
Okay, so Jenny, our very first topic on the Customer Support Leaders podcast is all about empathy in customer support. I know that this is a topic that’s particularly close to your heart. So I would love to hear your thoughts on how important empathy is in support, how you can foster it in a team, and indeed, if you think it’s a trait, or behaviour that can be taught?
Jenny Dempsey 1:34
Such good questions. And empathy, you know, in every interview for our customer support agents, it’s one of the things that we all look for. I’m pretty sure it’s on every single interviewer’s checklist like oh, does this person show empathy? Will they show empathy to our customers to the team? So we’re always looking for it. And then you know, when we hire someone, and they don’t necessarily display the type of empathy that we want, because it may not come naturally. We sometimes wonder if like, Oh, well, maybe we have the wrong person. I think that empathy is something that it’s definitely necessary in customer service roles for internal customers or teammates, and the external customers or actual people out there with our product or service. And I think that we all show empathy differently. You know, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person can look one way for one person and another way for another person based on our own life experiences. And then we also as a team will mirror what our leaders do. So if we’re seeing our leaders in customer service, doing something that’s very, maybe distant or that they’re not understanding or sharing the feelings that can come into play for everyone on the team, whether or not empathy is a natural skill, because if the Leadership is not displaying these like, the other people may not feel that they want to or can, it may not feel as important. But then I’m going to toss it around to: there’s empathy fatigue, where there are some people that feel so much and will do so much that they burn out simply because their ability to understand and really like, share the feelings like it’s just so much they feel all the feels of everyone else.
Charlotte Ward 3:29
You know what, Jenny, I think that’s really interesting, what you said there about people can be very empathetic. But if they’re hired into an organisation where leadership aren’t necessarily willing or able to display that level of empathy to customers, for whatever reason, whether that’s some perceived lack of value in the service or whether it is just a personal kind of approach to the workplace, whatever that is, that must be a place of turmoil for those people on the front line, who are very empathetic if they don’t feel they have that empathic support from leadership.
Jenny Dempsey 4:07
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, they may feel that that gets a little blocked, where they have all this feeling they, they feel very strong, you know, towards wanting to help the customers, but maybe, you know, it could even come down to they’re not given the right tools to help the customers, they’re not given the amount of time that they need to help the customers, they’re rushed through a call. So they can’t even show this true empathy because, you know, whoever set the rules and policy doesn’t give the team the opportunities to release the empathy, I guess, in a way.
Charlotte Ward 4:42
Yeah, yeah, set it free!
Jenny Dempsey 4:44
Set it free!
Charlotte Ward 4:48
So how do you hire for empathy?
Jenny Dempsey 4:50
So I think this looks different for every company. And it really also comes down to the culture. I think every company has to define what empathy really looks like for them. You know, we all have different ways of communicating with the customer. And in a nutshell, I mean, we could say it’s understanding the customer’s needs, asking the right questions, supporting them with supportive words, kind words. And there’s really no, at least in my opinion, and from working at so many different companies, empathy really looks different. But there’s the same underlying basics, but it’s going to look different for every company. And there’s an importance there for the company to define what empathy means to them. So when they’re in the interview, they do know what to look for, and everyone’s on the same page.
Charlotte Ward 5:39
In what ways do you think it’s significantly different than across companies, I guess just in just in how its exhibited, really more than anything specifically personal to the to the potential employee.
Jenny Dempsey 5:53
Right. So and I think it comes down to what the customer service agent might be doing. For example, someone in a dispatch role who’s answering 911 calls is going to need a different level of empathy than someone who’s answering tech support calls for computers. But there is still the same underlying basics where someone needs, the customer needs to be heard, the customer needs to be respected the customer, you know, the agent needs to understand that whether it’s a computer, or whether it’s someone’s heart, the basics are there, but it’s like, what is the agent actually going to be doing? And that needs to be clearly defined and shared with the team
Charlotte Ward 6:32
And modelled well, and by leadership is really important to as you said,
Jenny Dempsey 6:36
Charlotte Ward 6:39