Two of Four: Convey Empathy

The second of our four keys to successfully connecting with first-time callers is the ability to feel, not simply for, but with your caller.

The effective conveyance of empathy requires a high level of what is termed emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to sense where a person ‘is’ emotionally and demonstrate to that person that you are right there with them.

This requires a finely tuned ability to listen, and the use of words and phrases that set the stage for a person to believe you truly care about them.

A good way to set the stage is to ask callers, whenever appropriate, “Are you experiencing any discomfort at this time”  Then responding with genuine relief if the answer is no, or concern is the answer is yes, and determining the course of action, which will most immediately assist the patient.  This is easily illustrated by asking yourself how you would feel if you were the caller in each of the following scenarios.

Scenario One
Caller: I was just in a car accident and broke my tooth off at the root!

Member: Are you a current patient? Do you have insurance? We’re
closing in one hour. You’ll have to call tomorrow.

Scenario One
Caller: I was just in a car accident and broke my tooth off at the root!

Member: Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry to hear that. This is Mary. Who am
I speaking with ? We’re going to get you taken care of right
away. Where are you now?

Big difference, right?  Conveying empathy does not mean making promises you cannot deliver.  It does mean making it unambiguously clear to the caller that your upper most concern and responsibility is the care of patients (whether or not they happen to be your patient yet).

Funny Thing
If a smile needs no translation, a laugh is among the most erudite of interpreters, which is why another terrific way to convey empathy is through the effective (and careful) use of humor. There are few quicker ways to break the proverbial ice than through a shared humorous experience.  Just be sure to carefully consider your audience before sharing your humorous anecdote.  When in doubt, keep it G Rated.

The Platinum Rule
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I will venture to suggest that empathy takes The Golden Rule one better.  Instead of treating someone as you would have them treat yourself, empathy permits you to treat someone as they would wish to be treated.  

So,  in your communications, be they on the phone, in person, via email, or in writing, work on your empathy, and watch them go Platinum!

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