Customer Empathy: Why is Empathy Important in Customer Service?

Table of Contents

Last Updated: July 2024

What is the one skill that every customer service representative must possess?  Empathy is unmatched regardless of the tools, processes, or procedures in place. Empathy statements are your way of communicating to a customer that you understand their concerns, issues, and feelings. Harvard Business Review research suggests the top 10 most empathetic companies increased their monetary value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 companies and generated 50% more earnings. However, using empathetic statements isn’t enough; it all comes down to whether your customers believe your agents identify with and understand their problems, feelings, and motives. This guide will walk you through:

What is empathy in customer service?

So, what exactly is consumer empathy? Empathy is defined as the ability to share another person’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation. In a customer service environment that implies being able to put yourself in a client’s shoes. It is an important personality trait for your support team to have because they must deal with a diverse range of customers every day, solving problems while representing their brand in the best way possible. Consider the following two scenarios in which you contact a company’s customer service for extra help:
  • Scenario A: You contact customer service, and the agent tells you that there is nothing you can do but wait. You’re left frustrated and powerless.
  • Scenario B: You contact customer service, who apologizes for the mix-up and expresses sympathy for your frustration. They provide options for resolving the situation and stay in touch with you until you find a solution.
Ask yourself which company would you buy from again? The majority would choose scenario B to be an ideal customer service interaction, why?
  • Customers believe that they are being heard
  • Their concerns are being addressed.
  • The support team is doing everything possible to help them
  • And more importantly, client empathy

Importance of empathy in customer service

Let’s look at some reasons why empathy is so important in creating a memorable customer experience:

1. Enriches the bond between you and your customers

It’s important to develop an emotional connection with your customers through personalized empathetic customer service. According to research reported by the Harvard Business Review,  emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. The study also says emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more frequently, are less price-sensitive, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.

2. A better understanding of customers’ needs

Your consumers, like anyone else, expect you to listen to them and understand their concerns. At the end of the day, that is what empathy in customer service really is: actually listening to what your customers have to say. A lot of customer dissatisfaction can stem from a discrepancy between what is expected of when they contact customer service and what is actually provided. 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. 

3. Help you rectify a negative customer experience

Who hasn’t had a bad experience with customer service?  Regardless of whether the company forgot to return your call, shipped your product late, or delayed a refund, these negative experiences can leave a lasting impression. A negative customer service situation can be rectified in a variety of ways, but it’s never easy. Whatever steps your support team takes, it is important to be empathetic to the customer. In fact, you may end up with a better relationship with your client than before. A brief and sincere expression of empathy can do wonders to help calm a difficult customer. By letting customers know that you understand why they are upset, you establish a rapport with them.

4. Customer retention

Did you know that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%? Being empathetic in your interactions with customers is one of the most effective ways to improve customer retention. Why?  Across the globe, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Being empathetic allows you to always prioritize your customers. Personal engagement through empathy leads to a better understanding of a customer’s situation, which helps you gain loyalty. As a result, You’re left with a satisfied customer, a memorable experience with your company, and a good chance of earning his or her brand loyalty.

5. Improved Word of Mouth Recommendations

Providing consistently excellent service to your customers can encourage them to spread the word about your brand.  Not convinced? Take a look at these stats that show you how powerful your customer interactions can be:
  • If a customer feels satisfied with their interaction with your business, 96% will return and will be more likely to tell the people around them. 
  • On average, customers who have their problems resolved by a business will tell four to six people about their positive experiences. 
In this digital age, word-of-mouth recommendations are more important than ever. Start by providing a positive experience fueled by empathy, and watch your numbers soar.

6. Improves Brand Image

Your brand is what sets you apart in the marketplace.  Establishing a positive, recognized brand through excellent customer service improves your credibility with customers, your industry, and the market overall. What better way to establish a positive brand image than to be empathetic with your customers? Especially considering 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as necessary as its products or services.  For example, if your brand is known for being customer-centric, customers will expect the same from their interactions with you. When you consistently provide customer-centric service, combined with empathy your brand will stand out.

Some examples of empathetic responses

Using the appropriate empathy statements ensures that you are laying the groundwork for a memorable customer experience. We’ve compiled a few lists of empathetic statements and phrases to inspire your support team to craft far more empathetic responses in a variety of scenarios.

1. If I understand correctly…

The first and most important responsibility of your customer service representative is to comprehend the customer’s situation. Customers expect your support team to understand their concerns when they contact you. Using the phrase: “If I understand correctly” shows that you identify with the customers’ concerns.  This also ensures that your agent understands details about the customer’s issue and that they are both on the same page.

2. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this

When a customer is upset or believes they have been treated unfairly, it can be difficult for your agent to get to the bottom of the issue. This is why Identifying the problem and sincerely apologizing is a major part of empathetic customer service.  Try using a statement like: I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this It is important to first listen to the customer’s problem and say, “This does not sound good at all.” I’m truly sorry that happened.” before proceeding to the solution. Apologizing to the customer does not imply that you’re admitting to making a mistake. It simply shows the customer that you understand their negative experience and empathizes with them.

3. You’re right

Recognizing that the customer is correct demonstrates respect and empathy for their point of view. A simple statement such as “You’re right” can help to calm down angry customers and reduce frustration. Validating their issue shows your customer that you are taking their problem seriously.

4. Thank you for getting in touch about this

Your customers can always leave a negative review on a public platform and take their business elsewhere. The customer’s effort in contacting your customer service team to resolve the issue instead should be acknowledged and appreciated. Let them know, you truly appreciate their choice to work with your business by using the lines below:
  • Thank you for contacting me about this.
  • I appreciate you taking the time today to speak with me.

6. I will escalate the issue to our team

As a support agent, you may not always be able to respond to or solve issues posed by the customers. In such situations, you might need to contact a different team to find out the right answer or resolve the issue. Throughout this scenario, you should communicate to your customers in simple terms the steps you will take to resolve the problem.  Use a statement such as “I will escalate the issue to our team This statement is a clear commitment to resolving your customer’s issue and assures the customer that the matter is being handled as a priority.

7. I will contact you as soon as we have had an update

Following up with customers is an important aspect of customer service. When you follow up, it helps to reassure them that their problem is being addressed. Customers are kept informed of the progress and remain optimistic about the situation. A statement like “I will contact you as soon as we have an update” assures customers that their problem is being looked after. If a customer contacts you, make every effort to reach back to them with an update within 24 hours. This demonstrates your concern for supporting them or resolving any issues.

8. We appreciate your honest feedback

Only one out of every 26 customers is likely to bring up their complaints. The other 25 customers will simply take their business elsewhere.  Customers who do provide feedback, whether positive or negative, are taking time out of their day to convey an important message to you. The customer could be happy with the support and efficiency, and other times they could be frustrated with the outcome. In either case, a thank you message for customer feedback can help you make the most of the situation. A statement like “We appreciate your honest feedback, thank you” expresses your gratitude to your customer for taking the time to provide feedback to you.


Empathy is a skill that must be practiced, but when used correctly, it can significantly improve your overall customer experience. Aside from making your customer happy and improving key company metrics, using empathy in customer service can change your entire company culture. We hope that the empathy statements presented in this guide are useful for this purpose and that they help you in providing a superior customer experience. And if you still feel overwhelmed, you can always delegate your customer service to Helplama’s specialized professional within a few dollars per month.



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