35 Phrases to Show Empathy in Customer Service

We all know that it’s cool to be kind. But did you also know that it’s good for business? According to the Empathy Index, a report that analyzes the level of empathy (or lack thereof) in the cultures of almost 200 companies on major financial indexes, “[t]he top 10 companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings (defined by market capitalization).”

How’s that for competitive advantage?

Beyond it feeling good for your customer and boosting key company metrics, using kindness and empathy in customer service feel good for your team, too. In fact, doing nice things for others boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps create those feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Much like the feeling that you get after exercise, empathy also releases endorphins: a phenomenon known as a “helper’s high.”

Support people are already naturally empathetic, or they should be if you’re hiring the right candidates. That being said, nobody can be perfect all the time. We’ve compiled a few lists of empathetic phrases to help inspire your team to craft even more empathetic responses to support tickets.

Beginning a Customer Service Conversation

The beginning of your conversation in the support inbox may be the very first interaction that your customer has with your team. First impressions are important! In psychology, there’s a theory called ‘the halo effect.’ Psychology Today defines the halo effect as “a cognitive bias that occurs when an initial positive judgment about a person unconsciously colors the perception of the individual as a whole.”

To put it in layman’s terms: when you’re nice to a customer and make a kind, empathetic first impression, they’ll continue to perceive you as a kind, empathetic team. Take the extra steps to make that first paragraph of your very first response to your customer empathetic and warm, and you’ll give yourself an alley-oop for the next time they reach out.

Here are some great phrases that you can use to let your customer know that you care, right from the get-go.

  • “Thanks for reaching out about this!”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble.”
  • “I understand how that could be frustrating.”
  • “I’m happy to help!”
  • A personal, conversational greeting, ie. “Hi there Scott!” 
  • “That’s a great question.”

A great example of an empathetic paragraph using some of these could be:

Hey there Scott,

Thanks so much for reaching out about this—I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble. I totally understand how that could be frustrating for you! Let’s get down to the bottom of what’s going on here. I’m happy to help.

Align with Your Customer

After you’ve put them at ease with an empathetic opening paragraph, it’s time to let them know that you fundamentally understand where they’re coming from. Alignment is integral to customer support because it makes the customer feel like you genuinely want to get them where they need to go.

If your customer perceives that you don’t fully understand their situation, they may be less inclined to believe that you’ve got their back. While that may not be a big deal in all support interactions, it can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in tricky, frustrating inquiries. Here are a few phrases that your team can sprinkle throughout your support interactions to align with your customers and make sure they feel heard – the key to showing empathy in customer service conversations:

  • “I understand that you’re on a timeline right now!”
  • “You are totally right!”
  • “I’d be asking these same questions.”
  • “I can hear that this is important for you.”
  • “What would your best case scenario look like?”
  • “I’ve had something like this happen before—I know how frustrating it can feel.”
  • Ask for more information about what they actually want or need.

Let’s imagine that you wanted to include your alignment phrases right after your opening paragraphs. Here’s what that might look like:

“I can hear that this is really important for you. You’re totally right, this would be a valuable feature for us to add. That being said, it’s not on our immediate product roadmap. With that in mind, what would your best case scenario look like? I’m already going to talk to my team about this, but would you like to work together to find some workarounds?’

Reassure Your Customers

After you’ve aligned with your customers to let them know you understand where they’re coming from, it’s time to use some empathetic phrases to reassure them that you’re going to help. You can already see a bit of this in the prior example paragraph: we let the customer know that we’d be talking to the team about it. However, that’s not going to work in every scenario. 

The main theme in the reassurance section is having your team take ownership of a situation and use a lot of active voice. For example: using “I” instead of “We,” specifically for this segment of your email. Here are a few example sentences you can use to put your customer at ease:

  • “I’ll work with our team here to resolve this.”
  • “I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
  • “I’m able to reproduce this—it’s not just you.”
  • “I see the problem here!”
  • “I get how this could be confusing.”
  • “That makes total sense.”

Here’s how that might look in practice:

“I don’t have a solution for that right now, but I am able to reproduce the issue that you’re describing—it’s not just you! I’m going to work with our team here to resolve this. I’ll get back to you with what they say as soon as possible. In the meantime, try XYZ features as a workaround.”

Defusing Tension with a Customer

Sometimes, no matter how well-crafted and empathetic your responses to customers are, they’ll still be frustrated. It’s possible that they were already angry before they reached out, or that something in your response rubbed them the wrong way. Either way, it’s up to you to defuse it and get the customer back to a good mental state.

Just as with the positive halo effect from above, as soon as you lose the trust of your customers, it can be an extremely difficult thing to get back. It’s important to use the passive voice here to avoid sounding accusatory towards your customers. Defusing tension brings everyone to equal grounding before moving forward with the rest of an interaction. 

  • “It seems like XYZ thing happened.” (Rather than “You did XYZ thing”)
  • “You might find XYZ helpful.”
  • “Let me know if I’m misunderstanding you.”
  • “It sounds like…”
  • “It seems like what you’re saying is…”
  • “I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this.”
  • “You’re right.”
  • “I want to make sure we’re both on the same page.”
  • Thank them for providing extra or additional detail

Thanks so much for taking the time to write all of that out. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with this. So, just to reiterate what I hear you saying: it seems like XYZ thing happened. Does that sound right? I want to make sure we are both on the same page before moving forward. Let me know if I’m misunderstanding anything.”

Closing a Customer Service Conversation

All’s well that ends well—or so they say. It’s important to leave your conversation on a positive note. Much like the importance of the start of the interaction, the closing of your support interaction might be the last opportunity that you’ll ever have to talk to this customer. You want to bid them a fond farewell, and leave them with a good taste in their mouth. 

Here are a few phrases that your team can use in closing to convey empathy:

  • “Let me know if I’m off the mark here.”
  • “I really appreciate your patience.”
  • “Thanks again for reaching out!”
  • “Let us know if you have any other questions.”
  • “Is there anything else that I can help you with?”
  • “It was my pleasure!”
  • Bid them a fond farewell.

Here’s an example paragraph of how to put the cherry on top of an excellent, empathetic customer support conversation:

“I really appreciate your patience as we’ve gone through all of this. If I missed something or you’ve got additional questions, let me know. Otherwise, have an excellent rest of your week!”

Conclusion

Empathy is one of the few things in life where minimalism doesn’t apply. There is no “less is more” mentality here. Try to get your team to pepper in as many of these phrases as they can during their day-to-day. To make it even easier: you could create some shared Text Expander snippets to utilize as you work through tickets.

Empathy in customer service benefits everyone. It helps your customers to feel heard about and cared for, it boosts key customer metrics and it helps your support team feel good about the work that they do every single day. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

Did you want all 35 empathy phrases in one easy to store list? We got your back: 

Beginning a Customer Service Conversation: 

  • “Thanks for reaching out about this!”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble.”
  • “I understand how that could be frustrating.”
  • “I’m happy to help!”
  • A personal, conversational greeting, ie. “Hi there Scott!” 
  • “That’s a great question.”

Align with Your Customer:

  • “I understand that you’re on a timeline right now!”
  • “You are totally right!”
  • “I’d be asking these same questions.”
  • “I can hear that this is important for you.”
  • “What would your best case scenario look like?”
  • “I’ve had something like this happen before—I know how frustrating it can feel.”
  • Ask for more information about what they actually want or need.

Reassure Your Customers: 

  • “I’ll work with our team here to resolve this.”
  • “I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
  • “I’m able to reproduce this—it’s not just you.”
  • “I see the problem here!”
  • “I get how this could be confusing.”
  • “That makes total sense.”

Diffusing Tension with a Customer:

  • “It seems like XYZ thing happened.” (Rather than “You did XYZ thing”)
  • “You might find XYZ helpful.”
  • “Let me know if I’m misunderstanding you.”
  • “It sounds like…”
  • “It seems like what you’re saying is…”
  • “I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this.”
  • “You’re right.”
  • “I want to make sure we’re both on the same page.”
  • Thank them for providing extra or additional details.

Closing a Customer Service Conversation:

  • “Let me know if I’m off the mark here.”
  • “I really appreciate your patience.”
  • “Thanks again for reaching out!”
  • “Let us know if you have any other questions.”
  • “Is there anything else that I can help you with?”
  • “It was my pleasure!”
  • Bid them a fond farewell.
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