Notice The Difference In Empathy?

(Richard Millington) #1

Originally published at:

Take a second to look at the difference in responses between Yahoo and Square below: These first two are from Yahoo help community:  

The next two are from the Square support community.  

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(Suzi Nelson) #2

Love this!

When we [DigitalMarketer] train anyone who deals with social customer service, we require that they make an empathy statement in their response. It not only makes the customer feel heard and valued, but it can also go a long way in diffusing a frustrating situation.

(Michael Britt) #3


I’m curious about the idea of requiring an employee to make an empathy statement. Can you give an example of an empathy statement? I worry just a little that this requirement could become “robotic” and not really reflect the employee’s feeling.

(Diana Tower) #4

I LOVE the use of empathy here. It isn’t just about “getting through” the comments. It really is about taking care of your customers, members, students etc.

Sometimes empathy can come off as insincere, but when you come from a place of understanding it can really make the difference.

PS: @Suzi_Nelson I just wanted to say that I loved your article about lurker week. it is an outstanding post and I plan to implement it for the community I manage. Thank you so much for putting together such a fantastic resource. :slight_smile:

(Jessie Schutz) #5


I think that there are three things that will help with your concerns: 1) keep it simple, 2) use your company’s tone and voice, and 3) change it up as much as possible.

  1. You don’t need to go into some long diatribe about how sorry you are about a thing. “I’m so sorry that happened!” is perfectly sufficient.

  2. Staying consistent with your company’s overall voice will make it sound more authentic. If your voice is super casual and hip or whatever, saying “My sincere apologies for this inconvenience” isn’t going to sound right. “Oh man, that sucks!” or “That doesn’t sound right, let’s see what we can do” might be more up your street.

  3. People will notice if you say the exact same thing over and over again. Let your employees inject some of their own personality into these interactions, using some examples and guidelines provided by you. I really believe that letting your people be themselves will automatically convey sincerity and help dispel that feeling customers get that they’re talking to a robot.

Empathy statements I use in my Community:

  • I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with this.
  • I totally understand why you’re frustrated.
  • You’re definitely not the only person experiencing this.
  • Let me see if I can help.
  • Sorry for the delayed response!
  • Thank you so much for the feedback!
  • I’m so glad you were able to get it figured out!
  • Thank you so much for jumping in here to help!

And variations thereof. Hopefully that helps. :slight_smile:

(Rob Nicholson) #6

Sadly anything with the phrase “Yahoo” attached to it these days is toxic. I had the displeasure today to have to logon as a friend to help her sort out her folder mess. Those adverts were annoying me after 30 seconds! I’m not surprised that Yahoo employees lack empathy! They need a cuddle themselves most of the time.

(Suzi Nelson) #7

Great question! It’s funny, we required empathy statements in order to avoid sounding robotic. Empathy statements serve to align ourselves with the customer and making sure they feel heard and valued. Sample empathy statements are:

I know how important it is to be able to [SITUATION]
It’s definitely very frustrating when you’re not able to [SITUATION]

I’ve attached a screenshot of this process in action:

(Shreyas) #8

I love @madtownjessie’s explanation!

This is so important! We once had a situation when this turned out to be a problem. We had given access to our Facebook page to a fairly new employee and she had a completely different tone while responding to message. The following day we got into a discussion on defining our persona. What were we and how did we want people to feel about us when they hear our name. Some of the brand persona examples that were highlighted was that of Buffer & Slack.

(Rob Nicholson) #9

Was her tone better or worse?

(Shreyas) #10

Well, her tone was different. We had a really casual and friendly tone while she used a formal tone. It was her first job straight out of college and she thought that communication with community members during support should be very formal.

(Richard Millington) #11

I imagine this could be very situational.

Often people want a more personal response that sounds like it’s from a real person.

(Jessie Schutz) #12

People always want a more personal response that sounds like it’s from a real person. I don’t know a single person who says, “Man, I’m really glad that support person hit me with 854 macros during that chat exchange. It really makes me feel special”. :joy:

If you’re going to make an empathy statement required, even for agents for whom empathy doesn’t come naturally, empowering them to express themselves in a way that’s natural for them (within the parameters that you’ve set) is going to make them more successful and lead to a better interaction with their customers. Keeping the “company voice” consistent is part of that. I’ve talked to otherwise very capable support agents who have actually overstepped their bounds into unprofessional in their effort to be authentic. There have to be guidelines.