You need a ton of skills to be a successful customer service professional. To advocate for and help people, day in and day out, you need patience, you need a tremendous amount of product knowledge, and you need one key trait:


When you get caught up in the daily grind of working in customer service, it's easy to forget the purpose of your role: to help. A customer service rep's goal is to help customers solve problems with their business and achieve success.

With this in mind, reps should strive to empathize with and relate to every customer they come across because each has a problem that needs to be solved. And according to The NCBI, empathetic concern is defined as “an emotional response of compassion and concern caused by witnessing someone else in need.”

Want to help show customers that you’re on their side -- and not trying to rush them off the phone? Here are a few phrases reps can use in both their emails and calls to demonstrate empathy.

1) “I hear you.”

Using this phrase validates your customer’s feelings. While other reps might move on to the next part of their script, pausing the conversation to let a customer know that you hear them and that you understand their feelings can build rapport and show empathy.

Pair this phrase with “how can I help?” for maximum effectiveness. By asking how you can help you can get a clear picture of the user's specific pains and start to strategize. This allows you to move the conversation forward as you start to build a solution to these problems.

2) “That sounds extremely challenging.”

The first step to overcoming a difficult task is to acknowledge that it’s challenging. Once we wrap our heads around the fact that we need help, we’re more likely to find a solution. By letting your customer know that what they’re going through is challenging, you can enable them to realize that they may be in need of assistance.

3) “I’m sorry to hear that.”

You don’t need to be in the wrong to say you’re sorry. “I’m sorry to hear that” makes it clear that you empathize with the customer’s pain and offers them the chance to vent if they feel the need.

4) “Wow -- you’ve overcome a ton of adversity.”

Recognizing that the customer has already overcome a significant amount of difficulty can help them feel re-energized. They’ve battled and having someone else observe this fact can improve their mindset as they look to tackle the next challenge.

5) Say nothing -- just listen.

Sometimes the most impactful form of communication is silence. Research has shown that listening with empathy is the most effective way to process someone’s perspective. Besides providing the customer a shoulder to lean on, listening also helps customer service reps gain a better understanding of how to better serve and help that customer.

The core of every customer service rep’s job is to be helpful, and the best reps strive to help people solve pain points and turn weaknesses into strengths. By using these phrases on calls with customer, customer service reps can better solve problems and build rapport to help those customers get better outcomes from their product or service again and again.

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Originally published Oct 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated April 11 2018


Customer Service Skills