This podcast episode is about compassion and how having it for your customers can impact your profitability.
I was reading something the other day and in it was a quote from the Greek philosopher and mathematician, Plato. The quote said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” It struck me that if more customer service call center representatives, more sales associates, more senior level executives, and more business people in general kept Plato’s words in mind, then perhaps the business world would be an easier place to navigate.
I am often pained when I witness a business transaction that has escalated out of hand. These often go like this:
- Customer has an unmet need or problem.
- Customer reaches out for help but may be emotional. They may be angry or annoyed for example.
- Sales associate or customer service representative feels threatened or disrespected and reacts – not always in a good way.
- Situation spirals out of control. Voices become raised. Words are said that cannot be taken back.
- Customer goes elsewhere for their products or services and that loss will have an impact on the business’s profitability.
As I witness the scenario, sometimes as a bystander, sometimes as the customer, and sometimes as the owner of my company who needs to respond to a customer with an unmet need, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I know that by creating an environment of compassion, customer satisfaction can be achieved. Not only can it be achieved, but it can create unprecedented customer loyalty.
To create the environment of compassion in business is to become aware of Plato’s words in every transaction, not just those that are out of control. Remember that everyone is fighting a harder battle.
Especially with those situations that are spiraling out of control, it’s important to think about what might be causing this emotion in the customer. Now we’ll never really know why a customer may be reacting emotionally, unless they choose to tell us, but it’s important for me to have a few scenarios handy that I can come up with as I am working with a customer who may be upset.
The first thing I recognize is that the person who is upset is in pain.
The second thing I try to do is come up with possible reasons for that pain. This is what Plato meant as the “harder battle”. For example, did the customer just lose their job? Did they recently get an upsetting medical diagnosis? Are they having problems in their relationships? Are they caring for aging parents and being crushed under the pressure of providing this care? There are a ton of reasons why a customer may have become unhinged with the way you or your company is doing business with them and that’s the important thing to keep in mind.
For that customer who has just approached you with a need or problem who is unhappy or even angry, consider taking the following action:
- Slow down and recognize that pain is present in this customer’s life. They are fighting the harder battle.
- Take a moment to imagine what form that pain may be taking. For example, it may be financial problems, job loss, illness, etc.
- Let the customer fully express themselves and truly listen while this is happening. It’s going to be hard but don’t react at this point. Try to keep your own emotions in check.
- After the customer has communicated their problem, tell them that you want to help and that you are on their side in finding an answer to the problem. This lets them know that you want to help them fight at least this battle in their life.
Whether in business, in our communities, or in our families, we are all here to help each other fight these battles that Plato warned us about. In business, if you can offer words of encouragement, kindness, understanding, a compassionate environment, and an honest interest to help, you will create legendary customer loyalty.
Let me just end this podcast with the words of one of my favorite American authors and motivational speakers, Dr. Leo Buscaglia who passed away in 1998. Known as “Dr. Love”, Buscaglia touched, and continues to touch, millions of lives with his teachings. He said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Know that in business, you not only have the ability and power to turn a situation around but also the lives of your customers.