Efficiency and professionalism are essential for giving customers great service. But it’s just as important for customers to feel that they’ve been heard and understood.
In its ambition to be the best bank for customers, Lloyds embarked on a project to channel empathy in colleagues, especially for those who work directly with customers and clients. Lloyds asked us to work with them to create a learning module exploring what empathy means to them as an organisation as part of the induction for new contact centre staff.
While the audience are generally keen to succeed in their role, there are challenges in their environment – such as navigating different systems or needing to follow a regulatory script – that are likely to hinder building a genuine rapport with the customer. Thinking about how learners might overcome these challenges was factored into the design of our solution.
Empathy in customer services means putting customers first. It means seeing them as real people, rather than a cavalcade of problems to be dealt with as quickly as possible. It also means allowing yourself to be as human within your work as you are outside of it, and to listen without judgement to what you’re being told, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak.
Throughout the module, we see glimpses into the life of one customer, Jenna, as she experiences several major life events. An engagement, a new home, a divorce and a career change are some of the moments that lead her to reach out to Lloyds for help.
By following an intuitive scrolling menu that depicts a modern domestic setting, learners engage in activities by tapping on the topic titles, displayed as works of art on the wall.
In each interaction, learners are encouraged to think about what empathy looks and sounds like, whether through matching the energy and tone of the customer or offering her an appropriate level of help.
Balancing the need to listen with compassion and understanding for the customer’s point of view – while avoiding sounding overly familiar or insincere – is easier said than done. Advice and feedback tailored to the learner’s performance are available throughout the module.
Activities include an innovative game where learners choose what call centre adviser Noah says to Jenna through a series of multiple-choice questions.
At the end of the conversation, the video flips and we watch the conversation played back, this time from Jenna’s point of view. Seeing how she hears and perceives the responses invites learners to walk in Jenna’s shoes for a moment. With subtlety in the answer options, there’s scope to create genuine surprises for learners. Choosing the “friendliest” option as a default, for example, doesn’t always get the best outcome. Learners must really consider their answers in context of the unfurling conversation in order to be successful.
Guiding the learners through the experience is a virtual assistant called Piri, who does a nice sideline in empathy coaching. Piri provides a source of information as a trusted adviser for learners. Appearing throughout the course to help with navigation, Piri introduces activities and provides feedback on performance, with occasional flashes of humour.
Building up your empathy takes time and practice. Learners are encouraged to take their own notes – either by hand or typed into their computer, whichever feels most comfortable for them – so they can keep their learning takeaways to hand.
Learners are encouraged to make a note whenever they see or hear something that resonates with them or gives them pause to think. They’re also encouraged to make notes from Piri’s coaching tips, not only to help maintain their focus during the module but also to aid the retention of information to help take what they’ve learnt into their day-to-day work.
We’re always happy to talk to you about how immersive technologies can engage your employees and customers. If you have a learning objective in mind, or simply want to know more about emerging technologies like VR, AR, or AI, send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.