Does Call Center Empathy Training Work?


Does call center empathy training make a difference? CallMiner data shows that only 23% of customers believe the agents they’ve reached are actually listening to them. That low statistic suggests that these current customers could soon become ex-​customers unless sales managers start training their agents in empathy.

Customer Experience with Call Centers

2020 has been a hugely challenging year on many levels. When customers call your center, they expect to interact with an empathetic human, and they want their questions to be answered. They want their problems to be solved. The CallMiner survey data shows the state of the customer’s mind when they reach out to the call center:

  • Annoyed 36%
  • Hopeful 33%
  • Angry 16%
  • Ready for an argument 16%

Those statistics are daunting. And they indicate that your call center agents need great training. As a sales manager, you also may need some call center empathy training. If you want your customers to feel good about their experience you and your agents need to know how to listen and what to say.

Unfortunately, many customers don’t report good outcomes from their encounters with the call center. Here’s how they feel after the initial contact.

  • Frustrated 32%
  • Angry 12%
  • Ignored 14%

Does a good call center experience make a difference? Absolutely. While 68% of people will leave a service provider after a nasty call center experience, 74% will stay after a good experience. We all understand that it’s more expensive to bring in a new client than it is to sell more to an existing customer.

Call Center Empathy Training

Every situation is unique, but in most businesses a few agents in the call center score the highest marks from customers. This doesn’t happen by accident. As sales manager, you should take the initiative to learn what these agents are doing differently from their peers. Talk with them and listen to their calls. Then share the positive aspects of their customer interaction with the rest of the team.

You should also monitor what reps are doing in general. If one of your reps experiences a higher than average rate of unresolved calls or requests for escalation to a supervisor, step in. Coach them on actively listening to what a customer is saying. And help them practice responding with the right phrases.

Many businesses follow the principle that the customer is always right. In real life, we know better. There are problem customers. What we need is an effective way to deal with them. You and your agents should listen for specific qualities in a customer's vocalizations — whether it's an increase in volume or a slew of expletives. When your problem customers begin behaving this way, your call center agents need effective tools to diffuse the emotion and work on solving the problem.

With the right call center empathy training, your agents can create a great experience for your customer. Don't be afraid to invest in training for yourself and your agents. 

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.