Why You Need to Start with Empathy

I used to spend eight hours a day on the edge of my seat. Waiting for the next crisis. Holding my breath for another escalated call.

I wasn’t saving lives (or yielding any decision power whatsoever) but every customer thought I was. Their life circumstances were my fault. Their fate was in my hands.

I know, it sounds dramatic.

Working in a call center wasn't exactly not dramatic.

What I learned as a customer service representative

I listened as customers yelled, cried, laughed, and yelled some more. Whether our system was down, or a flight was delayed, the amount of frustration, panic, and distrust was the same.

Anything less than a clear and quick message, and you might end up listening through another tirade of curses (and not-so-kind exaggerations about your lack of intelligence).

As difficult as those conversations were, I realized I needed to change my approach. Customers don't need to hear "corporate speak" or a bunch of fluff.

Customers need clarity, compassion, and solutions.

More than anything, they need your empathy. They need proof that you are listening to them. Proof that you care.

So how do you do that through your email, web, and social copy?

Just like you would over the phone or in-person:

  • Ask questions

  • Repeat key frustrations, fears, and annoyances back

  • Provide specific, tangible solutions

Following these steps will help your customer feel heard and understood.

Putting customers first

Sure, when you’re writing your website copy or social media captions, no one is going to curse you if your call-to-action isn’t clear. No one is throwing up their fists if they can’t figure out how you can help them within a few seconds.

But if your customers don't feel heard or understood fast enough, they'll feel confused. And that's the last thing anyone wants to feel when they're searching for solutions.


Need a copy editor to help you write with empathy? Get a second pair of eyes on your web, email, or social copy. Contact me.