Take a listen to the way your company answers the telephone. Not just the half-an-ear listen as you walk by their workspace. Really take the time to hear how you sound to your customers. Recorded calls are best for this exercise but if you don’t have that technology available to you, then sitting near them and listening is the next best thing.

Listen to the flow of the call. They greet your customer and ask how they can help. This is usually the point at which we find out why they called. The person on the other end of the phone has just found out that something isn’t working in their home. Most times their mood reflects the anxiety they feel. They tell us about this thing that is making them call a service company when they really didn’t want to in the first place and our response to this tale-of-woe is, “Could I get your name?”

That is a terrible way to respond to someone’s problem and if it is happening in your business you should do everything possible to correct that behavior. Remember these are human interactions and the phone call is our first attempt at building a relationship with the customer. Using empathy is a much better way to get that headed in the right direction.

I don’t have a magic phrase because it should be in your people’s voice and delivered from a genuine place. They should pretend they are talking to their best friend or a relative when someone makes the precious decision to call your company. Upon hearing the news of this disaster your people should respond accordingly: “I know how frustrating that must be.” Or, “Oh no, let’s get that taken care of right away.” Human interaction, normal conversation.

If the people you have answering the phones can’t even fake empathy then it might be time for a new team. Or maybe a completely automated system. At least then there would be a valid excuse for a complete lack of caring or sympathy.