Feeling and expressing empathy is a vital skill for a customer service representative. According to the Cambridge online dictionary, empathy is:
The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.
So with that definition in mind, empathy statements are a written or verbal expression of your ability to understand a customer’s feelings in any situation.
Without empathy, your customer service interactions have a dry and automatic feel about them, and customers end up feeling unheard and dismissed. The great thing about empathy statements is that any customer service agent can learn to use them to improve and deliver great customer service.
Empathy creates a bond between customers and agents that helps them overcome any difficulties.
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What is an empathy statement?
At the end of the day, a customer simply wants their problem to be solved and an empathy statement shows that you are committed to helping them. It is a set phrase that you can use to communicate to customers to show your intention to understand how customers feel and make the situation right.
An empathy statement shouldn’t just be copy-pasted as you rush through a customer inquiry. They are useful in certain situations if they are tailored to fit your customer’s particular circumstances.
When you use empathy statements, you can elevate your customer service interaction beyond merely transactional.
Why are empathy statements useful?
Customer service empathy statements can be used to deal with an upset or angry customer. They help establish a rapport and create a connection, diffusing many tense situations. When something has gone wrong in customer service, customers want to know that you can walk a mile in their shoes.
Empathy statements make all manner of customer service situations more manageable and improve the customer experience. They show customers that you view them as more than just a number and that your business appreciates them, helping to develop strong customer relations.
They can actually save your business money as they help prevent your customers leaving through frustration or disappointment. Empathy statements increase customer service performance and make your agents more effective, resulting in a more productive customer service team.
Empathy statements show that your business really cares and turns a standard customer service interaction into the building blocks of a relationship. Empathy is the foundation of any bond between individuals and adds an element of humanity to your customer service.
Now we understand why empathy statements for customer service are so important, let’s get straight into the examples.
15 highly effective empathy statements for customer service
1. “Hi [Name], this is [Name]. I’m happy to help you with your problem today.”
Our first empathy statement is all about how you greet your customers. Customers often have mixed emotions about contacting customer service, and may even feel anxious or scared. Showing your customers that you are happy to help with their problem creates a positive atmosphere for the service interaction.
Using a customer’s name is vital to creating empathy. A person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language, and demonstrates that you know who the customer is and recognize their needs. Personalizing the customer experience is a surefire way to elevate your customer service and retain more customers.
Putting care into how you greet your customers builds empathy from the minute that customers get in touch with you. A good empathy statement can promote an upbeat attitude that puts customers in the right frame of mind for solving problems.
2. “The issue will be fixed completely in x business days.”
Our next empathy statement is about showing the customer your commitment to helping them solve their problem. By providing a concrete timeframe, you reassure the customer that they are going to receive a viable solution in a reasonable amount of time.
It might not always be the case that you can solve an issue instantly, so offering an estimate is the best way to show your appreciation of a customer’s time and alleviate customer frustration. Customers don’t like to be kept waiting so respecting their time significantly soothes their wounds when they feel like they have already been wronged.
Of course, your empathy statement is meaningless if you don’t stick to your promise. If anything changes, make sure to update your customer in a timely fashion so they don’t end up dangling in the wind.
3. “I have encountered a similar issue, so I understand quite well. Let me check the best way I can help you with it.”
Reassuring customers that they are not alone and that you have encountered a similar issue before means it will be much likely that you will be able to assist. Of course, you don’t want to imply that you are not getting to the root cause of an issue, rather instill customers with confidence that the issue is solvable.
Keeping customers informed about the status of their issue is vital to providing effective customer service. Empathy means keeping the channels of communication open so customers aren’t left wondering about whether you will be able to help them.
Being confronted with a known issue means your agents can benefit from the collective wisdom of your team about how to fix it. You don’t have to start from scratch which results in a much faster resolution of the problem.
4. “We will work to resolve the problem. You just enjoy your (birthday/holidays/Christmas break, etc.), and I will be in touch shortly.”
Assuring your customers that you will resolve the problem can go a long way towards soothing upset or angry customers. Especially if the problem occurs around a birthday or a holiday, any disruptions can cause a significant inconvenience to someone who was relying on you to provide a product or service during the customer’s personal holidays.
Showing awareness of the time of year can help customers appreciate that you understand them as an individual. You must have empathy for their lives outside of your company which will help you treat them as a human being.
Wishing someone a happy holiday humanizes the interaction and takes it beyond being merely transactional. Customers know they can enjoy their time while you work to resolve the problem in the background.
5. “I will contact you in X hours/days with an update.”
Customers appreciate it when you use empathy statements to keep them updated about the status of their requests. It’s a plain fact that many issues will take an undetermined time to resolve, not least because it might involve the coordination of several team members.
When you make the promise to keep a customer updated, make sure you keep it. Sticking to your word prevents your empathy statements becoming hollow and insincere, with agents more interested in getting customers off the line than truly resolving the issue.
If a customer is updated, this stops them wondering about the status of their issue and believing your company doesn’t care. Even if your message simply says “Please bear with us,” customers will still acknowledge your consideration.
6. “Thank you for contacting us about this.”
When a customer gets in touch, they are taking time out of their busy day to resolve a problem in their relationship with your business. Multitudes of customers simply never take the time to complain and just leave, so when a customer gets in touch they are giving you a valuable opportunity to win them back.
This empathy statement thanks customers for getting in touch, and shows appreciation for their time. When you start the interaction off with a thank you, customers know that you value their business.
If you don’t thank your customers, they might start to believe that you don’t care and consider taking their business to a company that treats them better. Always express gratitude to customers whenever they choose to open a ticket with you.
7. “I want to make sure that I have a full understanding of what you’re telling me. I’m hearing that…”
A big part of empathy statements is active listening. When a customer explains their situation to you, you need to mirror it back to them to check you understand. Many details may go awry in the retelling and it’s very easy to believe what you think you heard rather than what you were actually told.
Customers appreciate it when you ask for confirmation of their story and check you have all your facts right. This enables agents to arrive at a much more effective solution to the problem and minimizes the need for customers to get in touch again.
Active listening means you consciously solicit feedback from your customers to confirm whether what you’ve heard is right. Applying your empathy statement during customer interactions means proactively being a participant rather than simply copy-pasting stock phrases.
8. “It makes me really sad to hear this happened.”
An empathy statement can be used to express regret for whatever the problem the customer is encountering. Even if the issue is not the company’s fault, the agent can still sympathize with the customer over their inconvenience.
Saying you are sad shows that you are human and creates a stronger connection with the customer, who will appreciate that your standards of service have fallen short of the goal. Showing empathy for a customer in this situation alleviates some of their pain because the company is taking responsibility for what happened.
Sharing your own feelings about the customer’s situation is a great way to demonstrate empathy, because the customer knows you care. They are more than just a number to you, and you are taking their problem seriously.
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9. “We will get your issue resolved positively.”
You can use empathy statements to build confidence in customers that a resolution is on the horizon. You may have dozens or hundreds of customers who are waiting for attention, but at this moment in time their problem is your priority. Making an empathy statement that you will get the issue resolved assures customers that a solution is in progress.
You may think it is obvious that you are giving the matter your attention but you’d be surprised at the number of customers that might worry they will fall by the wayside. They know that their problem is important to them but they might have concerns that you don’t consider the matter serious.
It’s all just empty words if you don’t intend to fix the problem for the customer. Usually customers have contacted customer support when they don’t have any other choice, so it’s your responsibility to help them overcome all obstacles to their happiness.
10. “I can understand how that would be difficult.”
Upset or angry customers require particularly careful handling. Expressing empathy to these customers is important because they are already in a distressed state of mind, which might make it harder for them to be open to solutions. They are looking for someone to take the blame, which may not be the most appropriate response for your agents.
Saying that you can understand their situation is difficult communicates understanding of the problem without taking full responsibility. This is an example of true empathy, because you are experiencing the customer’s feelings along with them.
Taking this approach will help to calm customers down and assure them that you are sensitive to how they feel. This may open up customers to more constructive solutions than would otherwise be possible if they stayed angry.
11. “I would feel XYZ too in that situation.”
Sometimes you need a more tailored response to a customer in a difficult situation. Does a customer feel frustrated, disappointed, or anxious? You need to use your judgment to gauge how a particular customer is feeling at the moment and then express your empathy.
While customers are always looking for a solution to their problem, they appreciate it when agents are genuinely caring and can relate to how they feel. Customers feel like the injured party, and you can soothe their pain by using an empathy statement that captures their particular emotion at the time.
If you can manage to correctly assess a customer’s feeling state, they will feel more positively towards you and be likely to forgive a lapse in service. It requires humility to be able to empathize with a customer and shows you are more than just a corporate robot.
12. “Give me a minute while I figure this out for you.”
When customers get in touch with the customer support department, it may not always be immediately possible to find a solution. Asking for a little time to diagnose the problem shows empathy for the customer because you respect the fact that they are waiting. This can be done in a fairly casual manner to ensure that the customer is content to wait for you.
This particular empathy statement shows that you recognize there is a problem and that it might take a little while to fix. It reassures customers that they are not making a fuss for no reason, and that you have the ability to get to the bottom of it.
You might have to put the customer on hold while you investigate the problem, so make it clear why you need more time to find a solution. Keeping an open dialogue is key to using empathy statements in customer service.
13. “When I am done, if I have got something wrong, I would appreciate it if you would correct me, if that is ok?”
Showing that you are aware of your fallibility is another way to express empathy in customer service. No customer service department is perfect, but customers may feel reserved about speaking up if you make a mistake. Inviting customers to share their feedback is more empathetic than assuming that your solution is perfect.
Asking customers to correct any mistake is better than them leaving the interaction feeling dissatisfied. Disappointed customers may simply take their business elsewhere and leave online reviews about the incompetence of your customer service department.
It’s always difficult to take criticism but doing so is essential for empathetic customer service. Empathy statements must be used as part of a dialogue, not a one-way speech that ultimately rings hollow.
14. “Is there any other problem I can help you with today, big or small?”
When it comes to the end of your customer service interaction, you’ll need to close the conversation with a good empathy statement. Asking if there are any other issues is a great way to show customers you are committed to excellent service. Customers may have more than one problem but they don’t feel confident about taking up too much of your time.
Reach out to shy customers with this empathy statement that ensures they receive comprehensive service. You’re showing customers that you are committed to their happiness when time is no object to their satisfaction.
Instead of rushing customers off the phone or email, take the time to check whether there is anything else you can help with. You may discover more issues that would otherwise have gone unresolved.
15. “We are happy to have been able to fix this problem for you. Have a great rest of your day.”
Finally, use empathy statements to express to your customers how happy you are that they have got in touch. When you think about the fact that the majority of customers never complain and simply leave, you’ll remember to appreciate each and every customer issue.
This empathy statement takes the customer interaction up a notch by focusing on solutions rather than problems. Customers may feel resentful that this issue with your company has taken up their time, but you’re ending the conversation on a positive note.
Wishing the customer a good day shows an awareness of their life outside the customer service interaction. You may have taken up a little of their time, but hopefully the positive experience will set them up for success in the rest of their endeavors.
How do you express empathy without saying sorry?
Many companies don’t want to apologize to customers because it means accepting blame for whatever has happened. You can express empathy without saying sorry by using language that communicates regret for the customer’s situation. You can say something like “I sincerely regret this has happened to you” which conveys empathy but avoids apportioning blame to any party.
Saying sorry is an example of expressing sympathy rather than empathy. You may be sorry, but what are you going to do about it? Empathy drives you to find a solution for the customer, because you are willing to step into their shoes.
Another empathy statement that could be useful is “This should never have happened to you,” which communicates that you know the situation is unacceptable. You don’t have to use the exact word “Sorry” in order to express empathy.
Customers who are in a difficult situation need to hear that your company understands their experience.
How do you express empathy in words?
It’s not easy to express empathy in words but it can be done. The key is to use words that reflect back the customer’s feelings and focus on the customer instead of yourself. An un-empathetic statement would be saying something like “It’s against our policy to allow this” because the emphasis is purely on the company. Customers don’t care about your policies – they just want to get the problem fixed.
Treating every customer as a unique individual is the key to using effective empathy statements. You can use the examples in this article as a guide for creating your own empathy statements that are relevant to particular customer conversations.
Using the word “you” is important in any empathy statement, because you are firmly placing the emphasis on the other party. Empathy is all about understanding and relating to another person’s feelings, and your language should reflect that goal.
There are no hard and fast rules to creating empathy statements, as long as you use words that relate to the customer instead of yourself.
What is an example of an empathy situation?
A good example of an empathy situation is when a customer gets in touch about their lost order. This particular problem is not necessarily the fault of your company, but you can express empathy for the inconvenience that the customer has suffered. A situation has arisen that is outside of your control, but the reputation of your company is on the line.
You can say to the customer, “I sincerely regret that this has happened to you,” which shows empathy for the customer’s experience without taking the blame. Next, maybe you might like to say, “I’ll look into getting this fixed for you.” Remember, customers are getting in touch for solutions, not empty words.
Then, once you’ve found the solution, which may be a refund or a replacement, you could say, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” This way, customers know that they are valued and that you consider customer service more than a necessity.
Empathy statements can be used throughout your customer service conversation to build rapport and focus on solutions.
Empathy statements are very useful for any customer support team that wants to build a positive rapport with its customers. Even relatively new agents can adapt empathy statements to engage with customers who may begin the interaction very unhappy. Empathy statements focus your agents on the wants and needs of customers, as opposed to the priorities of the company.
The point of an empathy statement is not to simply copy and paste stock phrases, but provide a framework that your agents can use to provide a more empathetic service. Each customer is different, and requires a tailored approach to ensure that they are happy and satisfied.
Use empathy statements in all manner of customer service conversations to overcome problems and relate to the customer’s pain.
Customer service departments that are more empathetic can enjoy greater productivity and more effective solutions. When customers feel more positive about your company, they are more likely to forgive mistakes and purchase again.