Compassion is one of the most important elements of any successful workplace.
To understand the importance of compassion in the workplace, it is imperative to first understand what compassion is.
What is Compassion?
The word's origin is Latin, and its root meaning is "co-suffering.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Some of its synonyms are sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, tolerance, kindness, and charity.
At Dexcomm, compassion is one of our must have Core Values. We screen all prospective employees carefully to ensure that we only hire those that have compassion deeply engrained in their character. We have defined compassion in our office more specifically as being:
- takes action to help
- able to feel for another living being.
One difference our definition has from the Merriam Webster definition is regarding action. The Webster definition states “…with a desire to alleviate it.” Our definition includes “takes action to help”. Our definition requires action by our employees.
How to Show Compassion in a Call Center
As a call center we have many opportunities to show compassion with every customer interaction. For example, we have defined three critical elements to each incoming call:
- Be engaged with and truly listen to the caller to ensure full understanding of the caller’s need is gained
- Properly record all of the information obtained from the caller, especially including the “meat of the message”, while also ensuring its prompt and proper delivery
- Give the caller the confidence to know that their concern or problem is being taken care of
It is the third item above where compassion really makes a difference. Not all agents will make the callers feel as if they truly care about the problem they are calling about. An agent with compassion has ways to let the caller know their problem is important and understood. This is more than engagement; it is an expression of empathy whether verbalized or simply conveyed in the agent’s tone of voice.
An agent that has compassion and is engaged with the caller will do more than simply follow a script. They will listen carefully for all cues that may change the nature of the call even if not a part of the message script.
For example, there have been occasions where a caller has given information early in a call that is needed later in the script. A compassionate and engaged operator will simply fill that information in when reaching that part of the script.
An uncaring, disengaged agent will simply follow the script and ask the question again. Even more importantly, there are times when information is shared that changes the urgency of the call that is not at all a part of the script. By recording this information and ensuring its prompt delivery to the technician on call an agent can save time, money and possibly even in rare cases, a life.
In his book “The Advantage”, Patrick Lencioni states: “The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health.”
He goes on to describe one of the “healthiest organizations he has ever known” with having “fanatical customer loyalty.” Knowing your values, hiring employees with those values and using those values throughout every company activity such as training, motivating, promoting, rewarding, and also firing, is a key element of organizational health.
Knowing your values is important but having compassion as a value makes a large difference in establishing a healthy company culture. For companies that have compassion as one of their Core Values you will be ensured of a work environment filled with people who care and are generally pleasant to work with.
Almost everyone can relate to the challenge of working with someone who is inconsiderate, arrogant, or lazy and perhaps all three. It is rarely fun going to work each day to work amongst people that have those traits. An office with employees having those types of personalities will tend to have high turnover, low levels of experience and frequently, low levels of customer service. In contrast, an office with compassion as a Core Value will have experienced, caring employees concerned about the well being of customers with whom they have built partnerships.
Our Changing World
Today, many interactions with customers are managed by Artificial Intelligence and Bots. Is it possible to build compassion into a script driven by a Bot or an AI system?
Usually, the drivers of the script writers for AI encounters are efficiency and simplicity. A question to ask would be: who are the script writers? Is this a task that is delegated to the IT department? Or is the script written by Customer Service and then sent to the IT department for conversion to AI language? The challenge is, even if compassion is somehow written into the original script, is it able to be kept in the final script or is it discarded or minimized in the effort to retain brevity and efficiency?
Even though there are more and more interactions that do not include a telephone conversation these days, those that do likely have reached that level because some compassion is needed to address the issue of the customer.
The goal of keeping an element of compassion as a part of every script, whether the script is followed by an agent or a Bot, is essential to delivering the type of service desired by many people. Quite often that service is enhanced by adding the element of compassion.