On Service: The Power of Empathy

April 24, 2007

Having empathy can mean the difference between losing that customer forever and having them share their great experience with prospective clients. Worse yet, you never know when you might be talking to a blogger. If you upset a blogger like Jeff Jarvis whose unpleasant run in with Dell prompted a not so friendly blog post, you can see how just one person can hurt your company’s bottom line with one mishandled customer complaint.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

It’s going to happen. While it’s rare to get an unhappy customer on the phone at FreshBooks, it’s our job is to ensure that by the time the call ends, the client is as happy as possible. Sometimes a customer might call and ask for something completely unreasonable or demand a change to our service that will only fit their own needs and will complicate everyone else’s system.

What do you do in this case?

1. One thing to help defuse the situation is to let them know that you understand their concern and that you have listened to their complaint.  You can’t just say “I understand your concern, but.” this involves really listening to their complaint and even repeating their concerns in your own words.  You want to make sure that they know that you understand why they are upset.

2. After you have fully understood their concern, you should have a good idea of why they are upset.  Letting your client know that you agree with them is also another method to help defuse the situation.  However, you have to mean it and really put yourself in their shoes.

3. If you have already done everything in your power to make the situation right and your client is still not happy, let them know you have forwarded it for consideration to someone with more power (upper management?).  It is important not to reject any idea no matter how crazy it may be.  Everything should be open for discussion and every idea should at least be considered as a minimum.

I hope these tips help and I will share some more with you on our next edition of “On Service”.  Remember, you never know when your client is the next “Jeff Jarvis” so treat all calls and emails as if they were.

This post is a second in a series we are calling “On Service” where we will be sharing some lessons we have learned over the past few years.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.