Workstar - Blog

The 5 rules to develop empathy with your customers

Here are some facts you may wish to ponder. Recent statistics have revealed that it is seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one, and that one in three Australian consumers are not loyal to any business.

With customers demanding and expecting even better levels of customer service, understanding your customers’ experiences and how they feel has never been more important. While many businesses and employees believe that customer service simply revolves around the resolution of an infinite variety of problems, truly exceptional service is defined by an ability to connect with human beings – the lifeblood of any company – on a level that allows the customer to feel more valued and listened to than they did when they first made contact.    

At the very heart of customer service is the ability not to just problem solve, but to execute the all-important art of empathy. Researchers define empathy as the psychological identification with or experiencing of the feelings, thoughts and attitudes of another person.  For any business, integrating empathy into every customer service experience is critical.


Empathy is one of the most valuable assets your team can possess, and it will ultimately lead to more positive consumer feedback and all-important loyalty.

While some people are naturally more empathetic than others, the great news is that empathy is teachable!



The very first rule of empathy is building rapport. When a customer walks through your door, or spoken to on the phone, the relationship-building needs to start straight away. Natural, authentic, calm conversation skills – even when a customer is frustrated – are crucial to building empathy, and simply mirroring the customer’s emotions with frustration or aloofness will be counter-productive. Also, as a result of unsatisfactory past experiences, many people will approach customer service interactions with low expectations. Effective customer service representatives will overcome this by demonstrating the qualities that make us uniquely human, and not a disinterested robot.


Empathetic listening is a skill that requires a lot of development, but the results are incredibly rewarding. Active listening involves paying close attention to a wide range of signals from the customer, including the tone of voice, facial expressions, body language and of course, content. This ultimately assists your team in identifying the problem, which in turn, will help formulate an intelligent, considered response with positive solutions.


Before a solution is considered, your team must acknowledge your customer’s feelings, situation, or frustrations. When customers feel understood, listened to and cared about, they will be more open to work with a resolution. So rather than just listening, a verbal acknowledgement of a customer’s problem or complaint is essential.


Exceptional customer service occurs when your team members genuinely care about the outcome for your customers. They understand what your customers are going through, and the impact their situation or problem is causing them. It then allows for collaborative teamwork, as the customer service professional and the customer can work together to reach a satisfactory resolution.


After building rapport, actively listening, acknowledging and showing genuine interest, being able to come up with an appropriate and satisfactory solution for your customers should be a natural endpoint. However, even if your team is not able to solve the problem immediately, the most important things is that they will have genuinely empathised with your customers, who will feel cared for - and ultimately walk away feeling less frustrated, angry and emotional.


Practising the art of empathy will benefit your brand because you have taken the time to genuinely understand your customer’s problems, and to engage in one of the most valuable traits that humans are capable of. Without empathy, your customers may not just give up on their problem, but even worse, they may give up on your company. 

Our team at Workstar has experience producing and developing experiential learning solutions for clients across Australia. We are passionate about helping people develop that art of empathy through our award-winning solutions, and if you’d like to learn more about our approach, please contact us.

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Topics: Customer Service