Clients want more than solutions. They want empathy.

The solution to a problem may be simple – but only when you know what it is.

We had a serious IT problem in one of the businesses I am involved in. The business depends on the internet for bookings, so when there are issues with the website, turnover is affected. Three different IT consultants had failed to fix the problem before we found a company that could.

When our saviour arrived, he looked at the problem and said, “Oh yes, that’s simple. It will be fixed in 20 minutes.” And it was fixed in 20 minutes.

We were grateful to him for solving our problem. However, he did two things wrong:

  • Firstly, he undersold his value to us in sorting out our problem.
  • Secondly, he made the administration manager feel small in terms of her ability to do her job.

Mind your language

I’ve seen this play out many times with my clients. When they summon the courage to admit they cannot do something and look for help, the salesperson or technician responds with, “Yes, that’s simple,” or, “That’s easy.” The client is left feeling silly or inadequate.

Doing anything is easy when you know how to do it. But having empathy for other people who are struggling with a problem guarantees a better outcome for all.

For example, I learnt to drive a manual car when the gears were not synchromeshed. Often, I would break into a sweat trying to do handbrake starts on steep hills. My driving teacher was calm and empathetic during my many near disasters. His words helped me feel at ease. Of course, within six months of learning to drive, I could do handbrake starts unconsciously. They had become easy for me.

Relate to your customers

When you’re sorting out a problem for a customer, show some compassion. The suggested language is, “Yes, that can be a big problem. It causes people a lot of stress. In my experience, there are a number of things we can try. Let’s start so we can get you a solution.”

This demonstrates that you know your stuff and you empathise with the person’s problem. The solution might be simple, but you respect their vulnerability. This will help build your client’s trust in you and create a positive customer experience.

If you’d like to discuss this or any other business challenge you may be facing, contact me at

Sign Up

Get the latest news and info straight to your mailbox.