Up Your Empathy Game: Practice with Customer Service Calls

We treat customer service reps like disembodied voices—or worse, human vending machines. Explore this practice for making your exchange more human and less transactional.

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I’m on my fifth phone call to the customer service line when I finally get an answer. After what feels like an eternity of pressing extension numbers, getting transferred, and being forced to listen to hold music that feels like a deliberate torture device, the maddeningly cheery customer service rep explains to me why the computer I ordered—and paid for— is never coming. Ever. And then, to top it off, she has the nerve to tell me the company “appreciates my business.” I want to scream. I want to unleash my outrage and indignation on the woman paid to deliver this terrible news. But instead I take a deep breath and remind myself that we all want to be happy, appreciated, respected, and heard. And that includes customer service representatives.

For the past few months I’ve made it a conscious goal to shift how I relate to unwanted interruptions. I try to be mindful in all my relationships, but for some reason my good intentions can quickly go down the toilet in the presence of a faceless pair of ears paid to listen to me rant. Spending hours on the phone being bounced around through call centers can incite strong…

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