There are three domains of empathy: emotional, cognitive, and compassionate. Mastery of these domains is often shown in the positive feedback and loyalty shown to a brand. If you brand your company as empathetic, following through in actions will ensure that authenticity. Brands are continuing to understand the importance of empathy in business. Hybrid work settings are testing the company's empathy strength in its daily operations. Many overlook the deeper meaning of empathy. How it is applied in your daily actions may separate your brand from its competition. Here is how your customer support team can ensure their actions align with the brand's messaging.

Emotional empathy

Sensing customers' emotions is part of emotional empathy. It includes picking up subtle cues in email tones and in phone conversations. Those skilled in emotional empathy are able to spot body language signals conveying information. Being able to identify these quickly shows a good understanding of emotional empathy. 

Others may confuse empathy with sympathy and adaptive selling. Adaptive selling may lead to responses that ignore the emotional touch needed to support the customer. This may be felt by customers or potential clients. It can be a reason for them to see your brand as one whose actions do not match its branding as empathetic. Training those who are the first touch points for servicing an order matters a great deal. The most effective training places significant focus on applying empathy in actions and communications.

Cognitive empathy

Being able to sense customers' emotional cues should lead to excellence in cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy allows team members to view the customer's situation from their vantage point. The best customer service teams are good listeners. Their solutions are accepted more quickly and implemented more easily. Proficiency in cognitive empathy is rooted in understanding what is being sensed by the customer. Many times, customers call in for support and are given the standard prompt response from team members. Empathy is not shown in these instances. It usually results in multiple contact points with a company before resolving the issue. The customer may be emotionally charged at this point when asked the same questions repeatedly. In times like these, the call requires an unscripted human response. Using cognitive empathy upfront can lower the customer's frustration. And using compassionate responses along with facts can often help emotionally-charged customers disengage.

Cognitive empathy is weighted heavily in the three domains. An example of cognitive empathy is a team member admitting to the customer that they don't fully understand the situation, rather than assuming that a standard response to a unique situation will suffice. Utilize cognitive empathy to deescalate emotionally-charged customers who may not have the proper facts during their emotional call. Remember to deliver the response with compassionate empathy.

Compassionate empathy

Albert Schweitzer was quoted saying, "The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others."  Being able to sense, hear, and understand the customer, and provide a solution shows a basic understanding of empathy. Delivering what is cognitively understood with compassionate empathy will bring one from a good knowledge to mastery of empathy. In short, it is the manner in which the information is shared with the customer which allows them to feel heard. Mastering cognitive and compassionate empathy can help a team member when there is a limited amount of time to pick up customers' emotional cues.

Fluidity in all three domains improves the chances your company is being seen as empathetic. Assuming the revenue teams are showing this same level of empathy in their engagement, customer support will further build on the company's actions using empathy. Empathy in action is the way of the future.