This is a long standing concern for me in dealing with customer service from many companies. In the use of empathy statements, like the following:
I am sorry If you feel it confusing.
I had just clarified that the instructions given to clear cookies were in error, said I would locate it myself on the Internet, and I knew what to do.
So no, I didn't feel confused, not frustrated, nothing at all, at best, glad that I could point out that the instructions given were clearly in error and that I would find the correct steps and proceed with the resolution as given.
A more reflective statement would be, I am sorry for the confusion, these are the instructions I have in my help tools, I will need to look into clarifying if they are correct. Or something like that. Please don't think you have any awareness of my feelings.
Maybe, were those steps confusing, they are the ones our technical support staff have created for us to help you.
I would have replied, I believe they are not correct, if you can wait, I will find the steps for you and maybe you can pass them on. Would you like to do that, or I will just log out and find it myself.
I have since contacted the related department and provided the correct steps, as I did in my recent post.
Just trying to be helpful and empathetic that they are doing their job with what they have.
In the literature that I have reviewed, there are mixed opinions on phrases like, I can understand how frustrating that is and the like. Others suggest another response would be, I can imagine that what you have described to me could be frustrating for many people. No expression of understanding my frustration, or whether I am feeling confused, etc.
I don't know the answer, but I do know I find the phrase quite frustrating and I say that when it is frustrating me to have someone make guesses of my feelings. Different for all people, just a little thing that bugs me.
I am learning to say when it is not true, thank you for making the effort to try to understand my feelings, but my feelings are actually - as above, I am not feeling confused at all, and any feeling is my desire to help to correct what is clearly a technically incorrect set of procedural steps which I then found the solution to.
For a discussion on the use of I understand -
Why “I Understand How You Feel” isn’t a great empathy statement. by Nancy Friedman in her blog on customer service relationships. Just one opinion, they are all over the map.
But here is a bit of what she said as alternatives.
You can say: “Gee, I’ve never had that experience.”
You can say: “That has got to be very frustrating.”
You can say: “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.”
You can say: “I’ve had that experience and agree, it’s frustrating.”
But you cannot/should not say: “I understand how you feel.”
For thought and discussion, and I always let people who do say I understand how I feel, that they cannot understand how I feel, but if they want to listen, I could tell them, but I would prefer not to. Thanks for making the effort to be empathetic and try to understand my feelings, but you can never know my feelings unless I have told you them. You may actually be totally off track, so lets get back to the solution. That is my response. I would prefer I didn't have to say it, but I don't except empathy statements that cannot be based in my truth, maybe theirs, but not mine. Note how in the examples, they speak from I statements and never suggest how the customer may or may not feel.
I know this is the practice, but if I don't speak up it cannot change. Life is always about finding how we can interact more effectively on a human level, so I appreciate the industry for trying to be human, but I think they are a bit off track.
We try our best to stay as close to a real conversation as possible. Sometimes it misses the mark. I'm sure my colleague didn't intend to add to the frustration. Thank you for your feedback, you've provided some good insights.
Well said Bruce. Their condescending empty platitudes from a canned list of replies is nauseating! And as far as solutions go, they rarely have anything useful to add. The REs are much more knowledgeable and helpful.
The interesting thing in your comment about your collegues. They did not add to my frustration in that situation, I was not feeling confused, frustrated, just wanting to help. They didn't add to my frustration of the day and the moment of our call, they created frustration. I am pleased to hear from you @RogersZia and acknowledge that all of you try your best and it sometimes misses the mark. And I accept your thank you for the feed back and some good insights.
Communication is the key to good working relationships, and it is always a learning experience and both sides can learn how to improve in our future interactions.
@fwd1955 I feel that you are correct in describing them as "appearing" to be canned, as you have described. Hope I haven't misunderstood you in that statement.
The most frequently used statements, are almost identical in form to the tons of references that provide examples, and then you find the article like and found, and many others, that suggest to take care in the use of statements of interpreting others feelings, frustration, etc. They suggest their is a high risk of being off base, and actually causing an emotional reaction to the statement and taking all away from the issue at hand.
I will give credit to the moderators on this forum, more so than the few solution oriented experiences I have over phone and chat, they do often have excellent solutions, although I find them often at risk of being off in the phrases of empathy - that is an ongoing discussions in the customer service field - they need to take some time and go to the literature on relationship interaction, where it is I hear you saying this, do I understand you correctly. How can we work together to find a solution. If I have expressed a feeling or frustration and so forth in our conversation and explicitly how it relates to the issue at hand, then it is very appropriate then certainly, how can I relieve the frustration and move to a solution if possible. I will tell them if I need them to work with my frustration, or just stick to the issue, and I will deal with my own frustration in my own ways.
I feel like I am back in my days as a staff trainer of client focussed staff positions, of which some are front facing (directly with the customer, and some impact the customer, but never interact - like the shipping dock staff), and my back ground as a relationship therapist and a teacher of staff, families and children.
So I give credit to that many of them try, the error is in the current state of the literature on customer service and how to best personalize it. In my humble opinion anyway. And I can say that I have felt that the responses sometimes feel condescending and empty and like platitudes from canned lists is annoying, but I wouldn't go as far as nauseating, but that is your emotion as stated, and I accept it fully. Only you can know your emotions, and you have stated them well.
And yes, the RE's and even the first timers, and long term people on the board are knowledgeable and helpful, although some of them aren't at times, and I try to communicate to them when they have been off base with constructive feedback.
Been away from the board for a while, I have only one service left, happy with my new provider of other services, but also correct them on making assumptions on my feelings - it is the dominant method in the field of research, but it has not really been researched well in my opinion, appears to be more based upon gut feeling that clear research.
Easy way to get immediate feedback - It feels to me that I may be creating frustration for you, or it appears to me that this situation may be creating challenges for you, how can I best help you to move forward to a possible solution.
Again, just a thought. I think the message is clear and I will leave it alone for now.
Thanks all Bruce, and thanks for your feedback @fwd1955 . I do hope the interactions improve in your perception in your future interactions in life. That is always the hope for all of us.
Totally agree with you Rogers employees are trained to make these statements Check out this news story explains alot https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/rogers-employees-pressure-to-sell-1.4481128 or just google rogers complaints