Customer Service – An Emotional Experience

WRITTEN March 16, 2012 Author: Rich Atkins

It is ironic that in some Customer Service scenarios, the problem may end up NOT being solved, yet, the customer continues to do business with the provider.

In other cases, the problem is solved, and still despite the positive outcome, the customer exits.

Why is this?

The answer to this question lies in how the customer was treated.

Sometimes a customer service agent solves your problem (the “logical fix”). Afterwards, you do not feel valued, there is no emotional connection. At that point, the service remains only a commodity to you, and you might just seek a lower price next time.

Think about it, why would people pay more for a commodity that they know they can get elsewhere, cheaper?

If, on the other hand, you know you are welcome, valued, and cared for–even if your logical problem is not resolved, we can build and keep rapport by treating you appropriately, acknowledging you and what you’re facing, and then showing empathy for your situation.

Build the customer service skills of your staff with a few simple methods to keep in mind with dealing with a customer.


Find ways to elicit information without confrontation. As a matter of fact, do this by asking questions rather than making a confrontational statement. For example:

  • Can you give me more information? (instead of I don’t understand you.)
  • Are you sure? (instead of You’re lying.)
  • Is this correct? (Instead of You’re wrong / You made a mistake.)

This means focusing on the words, body language, and overall message of the customer.

Listening requires practice. The chief block to listening is self-centeredness (including being distracted by thinking about what you’re going to say next).

Paraphrasing is a must-have in the world of customer service skills. It is a way of acknowledging that you heard the other person by restating or rewording what s/he said. When paraphrasing, start with a transitional phrase, such as, “Let me make sure that I understand your point. Do you mean…?”


Provide the logical fix for the customer—solve the problem, if you can. Make it right. Correct the error.  Repair what’s broken. And if you have the authority, go that extra step and give something as a gift to the customer to make up for the inconvenience. 

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Provide your customer with an emotional fix, when you can. Let them know that you understand (show empathy). Also, improve their customer experience by taking the time to build some rapport with an expression of genuine empathy. Assure them that you are listening and that you understand their concerns.

This is perhaps a slight change to your perception of Customer Service. Although, an emotional experience may not be what you expected, it is what will be remembered by your customer. As a matter of fact, these kind actions go a long way toward building good will—and repeat business.

This information is from the Improving Communications IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE skills class. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our PUBLIC CLASSES.

Other Resources:

Customer Service is an Emotional Experience – Science Daily

5 Key Lessons About Emotions and Customer Experience

An Emotional Connection with Customers is Key to Customer Support

Image by Kecko on Flickr

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