L&G to train call centre agents in empathy

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Answering call after call, day in, day out, can leave even the most compassionate of contact centre agents a little desensitised to customers’ problems. This more than likely won’t go down too well with your callers who are probably not having the best day and are feeling somewhat sensitive, short tempered or otherwise emotionally stretched.

In light of this, financial services provider Legal & General has decided to put its entire customer service staff through an empathy and engagement training programme. Helping resolve insurance and financial planning issues, the company’s customer service team is no-doubt dealing with emotionally charged callers. In these kinds of sensitive situations, a little bit of empathy goes a long way.

The programme is named Customer Experience Matters and has been designed in partnership with learning solutions provider Hemsley Fraser, to help staff enhance their interaction skills. Topics such as building rapport; listening and questioning; managing the conversation; and understanding and acknowledging what matters most to the customer will be covered. The training, which is recognised by the Institute of Customer Service, will first be given to agents working in the life protection area, before being rolled out to other departments.

Joanne Hardy is L&D manager for Legal & General's insurance customer service division. She notes the importance of empathy in this field and how it can make all the difference to the customers’ experience. "Insurance can be an emotional business as you're dealing with people who may be planning for later life, buying a home, having children, coping with bereavement or they may have experienced a flood, a fire or a burglary," she said. "Customers are often emotionally-charged when they contact an insurance company and it can be extremely frustrating for them if the person they’re talking to responds robotically and doesn’t understand or empathise with how they're feeling. We've always tried to see things from the customer's perspective. This programme builds on that and highlights why it's so important to create an emotional connection with every customer. It reinforces how our staff can apply the right mindset and develop the behavioural skills that will make a difference."

She continued: "The Customer Experience Matters programme is the gift that keeps on giving. Making a cultural change to provide a world-class customer experience doesn't happen overnight. But stories are already being shared on improved interactions with customers and we can see that the right responses, reactions and results are being achieved. In the competitive world of financial services, this programme will help us to differentiate ourselves and enhance customer loyalty and retention."

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