Ash Rhodes shared his opinions on how different scales of empathy might be necessary depending on the organisational context.
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Charlotte Ward 0:15
Hello, and welcome to the Customer Support Leaders Podcast Episode Five. I’m Charlotte Ward.
Our theme for this week is empathy. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome to the podcast today my good friend Ash Rhodes. Hey Ash, would you like to introduce yourself?
Ash Rhodes 0:39
I would. My name is Ash Rhodes and I am the Director of Customer Support at vidIQ. We are the preeminent data analytics company for YouTube.
Charlotte Ward 0:51
Let’s think about empathy and support. I know what I think do you think that empathy in customer support is important and I’d love to hear, if it is how you foster that in your team, and do you think it can be taught?
Ash Rhodes 1:06
Okay, so yes, I think that empathy is very, very important. I think that there are some industries where it is more important. And I know that sounds strange. So at a previous company, it was a payments platform. So people’s money was tied up into it. I had to hire for empathy, almost entirely in that case, because if somebody’s entire livelihood was tied up, you needed to have strong empathy, powers, for lack of… superpowers. It was that was the level that I was hiring for with superpowers. And at my current place, I hire for as much empathy as possible, like I would love for them to be bleeding hearts, but also it is people’s YouTube channel. It is still super important that I’m dealing with creatives and so on, but it’s also like we don’t, like, there’s nothing that can be done to cause anything like it’s, it’s, we can’t destroy people’s channels or anything like that it is just it’s data stuff. So it isn’t, I don’t look at it as necessary.
Charlotte Ward 2:16
So there are, there are some what layers of an onion that you can peel there right though because ultimately, a payments provider is really obviously important in people’s lives. But to some degree, YouTube channels are important in some people’s lives, but they might also that they might also be the wrapping for an income, or they might be the wrapping for some other part that you’re not necessarily aware of.
Ash Rhodes 2:40
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And so like, I don’t… in no way is it ignored or anything like that. It’s just if like if you’re on a rating from one to 10, whereas I would have required a nine or a 10. At my previous one, I might accept a like seven or eight now and you asked previously can it be coached? I feel like you cannot create empathy in a person where none exists, but I feel like you can bring it out where it is buried deep. I don’t think you can can spark something that is not there. But I do think that you can be like, “Okay person where they are saying I am very upset. What do we say here? There are some there are some emotionally laden words here. What do we what do we respond with?” And there have actually been some some instances, embarrassingly recently wherein they totally missed it complete, like multiple people completely missed it and I’m like, okay, maybe I should have required a nine or 10 like my personal empathy scale, but just got to keep working on it.
Charlotte Ward 3:54
I think you make a valid point: it’s about coaching the appropriate response as much as trying to foster the behaviour isn’t that as a as a standalone thing. It is an ideal, but it’s as much it’s as important that the behaviour is appropriate to the context. So you can coach, what expected responses might be in certain scenarios with certain types of language that customers using or that kind of thing. And if you coach for those, I think I think that’s the coachable part, isn’t it? It’s that appropriate, detached response? how you deal rather than attempting to retrain someone’s character you can you can help them help them with that response. Right.
Ash Rhodes 4:42
Right. And to your to your point. Yes, like it. Did you ever watch Dexter?
Charlotte Ward 4:50
Ash Rhodes 4:50
So in Dexter, he was a psychopath. He was a baby psychopath and his father basically taught him how to fake emotion. How to like, if somebody is showing this angry face. He’s angry. And you should respond with these kinds of words in order to pretend to be a normal person who recognises emotions. I feel like that’s what we kind of do sometimes as a leader is, even if someone has really excellent EIQ, they still sometimes need a little bit of coaching to be like, okay, when someone is saying these kinds of things, you still need to respond in this kind of way.
Charlotte Ward 5:34
It’s that translation again, isn’t it? We often talk about translation in support and particularly in leadership that as much as we are translating things between our customers and our developers and our developers. We are also having to translate things for ourselves that our customer may say, very clearly, “I am very upset” or “I am very angry”. And it should be one hopes quite clear how you respond to those sentences. There are other ways that customers can express their needs good or bad. And the thing that you’re coaching for is to recognise those and respond appropriately to those.
Ash Rhodes 6:12
Right exactly like “I am very angry” is also frequently like, “well, that’s not ideal”. That to me now is like a flashing red light of “Oh man, they are pissed.”
Charlotte Ward 6:26
For the benefit of our listeners. Ash has some great faces from disdain to anger.
Ash Rhodes 6:34
Whatever, I’m a delight!
Charlotte Ward 6:40
That’s it for today. You can find show notes over at customersupportleaders.com/5. I’ll see you next time.
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