Showing Empathy Through Online Communications Can Win Customers (and Awards)
A story of an award-winning customer service agent who helps customers reach their goals in a very personal way.
Mar 23, 2021 | 0 comment
Billy and His Motorcycle.
There once was a boy. We’ll call him Billy.
Billy loved motorcycles. On the weekends Billy would join in the races, which were fun events for him and his entire family. One Friday afternoon Billy was racing, as he always did, but one wrong move and he ended up on the ground. Don’t worry, Billy was totally fine, besides a slight bruising of his ego. But when Billy picked up his bike he realized that it was severely wrecked. Billy’s dad looked at the bike and saw that while it was fixable, it would take some work. The challenge was to get it back in shape by the next race, which was set for Saturday, the very next day.
Billy really wanted to race again, though. His dad was trying to fix the bike for him, but some essential parts needed replacement. But to order the replacements would take time and shipping, and they just didn’t have the time. With little hope, Billy’s mom contacted a company known for its motorcycle parts – Rocky Mountain ATV/MC. What happened next surprised Billy’s mom.
First, she was able to easily text the company instead of spending hours waiting on the phone. That was helpful, as she could still attend to Billy and do other things she had to do that day while staying in touch. And second, a very nice customer service representative, named Stephanie, understood the situation completely. Stephanie went out of her way to find the exact parts Billy needed for his bike. Not only that, she was able to have them delivered to the family’s house the very next morning. That allowed Billy’s dad time to install the new parts and have the bike ready for the next race.
Yay! Go Billy!
Behind the Scenes Winner.
We don’t know if Billy won the race that day, but we know who did. Stephanie Wilson. The customer service agent who made it all happen.
In fact, Stephanie of Rocky Mountain ATV/MC was one of the four 2020 Best Customer Service Challenge award winners. These annual awards are given to the best of the best customer service agents based on different KPIs. Out of all the agents across all the companies in the world that use LiveHelpNow software, Stephanie was among the top four.
She didn’t just win the award for herself. She also put her company, Rocky Mountain ATV MC, on the map among the top customer service companies, who also won the award. After the race, Billy’s mom went on for weeks, leaving reviews about the service she received. That is very valuable as customer-led storytelling is one of the best marketing a company can get.
What’s amazing about Billy’s story is that all of the communications that day took place over text. One challenge of that type of communication is that it takes an agent additional effort to communicate empathy and understanding to the customer. Stephanie herself attests to that.
“My biggest challenge was and still is learning how to word things on chat to make customers feel like I am here for them. I have always been a very short answered person. I am still working on this but feel like I am doing much better. Also making sure I read the customers entire concern and address all that is being asked of me.” Stephnaie Wison, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.
So, how did Stephanie manage to show empathy through online communications? Let’s learn together.
First, Love The One You’re With.
There is an important rule flight attendants go over in their pre-flight presentations. Should an emergency situation arise, passengers must put on their own oxygen masks before attempting to help others.The moral? People cannot efficiently help others if they don’t help themselves first. Like the old saying goes, “you can’t pour out of an empty cup.”
Same principle works in customer service. Our friend Stephanie explains that she is as helpful to customers as she is because she loves what she does and she loves working for Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.
“I have been in customer service since I began working as a teen. I enjoy interacting with people and helping with their needs and wants. Also, it helps that I enjoy and love the company I work for as my team provides great support and I love the industry. You have to enjoy your job. Messaging over chat does have its challenges. Customers need to know how sincere you are about helping them.” Stephanie Wilson, Rocky Mountain ATV MC.
Sincerity is the key here. Tired, overworked, burned out agents cannot make customers happy, because happiness is not something they have in their cups. Being happy, loving their jobs, and loving the company for which they work is what makes good agents good. Happy employees make for happy customers.
Burn out is a common problem among customer service agents. Skilful management and effectively implemented stress coping strategies as well as having the right tools and resources can help. This is particularly true in the case of remote work as employees working from home might need extra support.
Below is a link to a motivation-boosting guide for customer service agents. Check it out!
Second, Say: You’ve Got a Friend in Me.
What makes an experience stand out positively? Why do we remember one specific vacation, place, or event over others? It’s because these specific instances touch us on a deep emotional level and make us feel good. The same is true for customer experiences. Exceptional customer experience makes customers feel good because it satisfies their deep emotional needs. To create a positive customer experience, agents must connect with customers on an emotional level through empathy and understanding.
Meeting people’s emotional needs is not an easy task. Showing empathy through online communications is especially challenging. It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that, time after time, customer after customer. It takes exceptional people skills and it takes being a true people person.
Stephanie, little Billy’s hero, is a living example of this. She truly loves and cares for people. And it shows. Hiring positive staff with a can-do attitude and a drive to help people is one way to ensure a company’s success.
“One of the things that makes us successful is our staff. We surround ourselves with highly skilled enthusiasts that can relate with customers and understand their situations.The one thing we always preach to our employees is that they should walk out of the door feeling good on a daily basis. If they ever feel that we fell short on helping a customer, they have the power to change that.
“We encourage them to build a true connection with our customers beyond doing the basics. Taking care of the customers’ issues is the expectation. Building a connection is going beyond that to get to know the customers and relate to them on an individual level. Our team has really taken that to heart.” Trenton Nelson, Director of Customer Experience, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Finally, Get By With a Little Help From (Technology) Friends.
Video may or may not have killed the radio star, but we live in the 21st century. Technology makes the world go round. And sometimes it helps improve the human element of customer experience and show empathy through online communications.
Remember Billy’s mom? She was thrilled that she could talk to Stephanie over text. Texting customers is becoming more popular as people prefer that channel of communication. That is not to say that focusing on customer service over text is right for every business, because it’s not. Knowing the customers, their preferred methods of communication, and offering them multiple options is what works. That is what makes Rocky Mountain ATV/MV successful in its customer service delivery.
“In 2020 we really dug into the omnichannel experience. We wanted customers to have an amazing experience no matter their preferred method of communication – text, chat, facebook messenger, phones and email. Allowing multiple lines of communication enables our customers to decide how they would like to interact and allows us to create a second to none experience for them.” Trenton Nelson, Director of Customer Experience, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
Equipping the customer service teams with multiple tools increases productivity and efficiency. According to Nelson, allowing live chat opens up the ability for agents to interact with customers while the visitor browses the company’s website. They can help them navigate and ensure that they are picking the correct products while receiving awesome customer support. Additionally, agents can handle more than one customer with the use of chat or text technology.
“Customers want quick answers and we are able to do that with 3-4 customers at a time [using chat and text]. Phones limit us to one customer at a time not to mention the large increase of handle time.” Trenton Nelson, Director of Customer Experience, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
People Person in Digital World: Empathy Through Online Communications
Humans are not robots.
A CAPTCHA program makes website visitors prove they are human by performing certain human tasks. Customers don’t need to tell an online customer service agent to point out pictures of boats to know the agent is human. They can feel it. And they don’t like it because they want to deal with humans and feel connected.
People do business with people. Companies don’t solve problems. People do.
— Shep Hyken (@Hyken) March 16, 2021
It, then, is more disappointing to get a cold, unhelpful treatment from agents. After all, if they’re human – they should act like humans. One way to do that is to show empathy through online communications. The problem is that being personable, friendly, empathetic and, well, human can be challenging over digital channels.
How many of us experienced misunderstandings in tone and message over text with loved ones? Most of the time we get a chance to talk to the people we know and love in person at some point to clarify things. Unfortunately, we rarely get that chance to do so with customers. Customer service agents get a limited number of chances to impress the customer.
Showing empathy through online communications is one of the key functions of a successful customer service representative. Stephanie Wilson and the whole team at Rocky Mountain ATV/MV know it well. They sincerely love their jobs, they have great people skills, and they use the right tools to help them help their customers.
And they win awards because they try hard to make all the Billys in the world happy.