The woman on the other end of the line at the call centre hesitates. The change in her tone tells me she does not know the answer to my question.

She hesitates. I hear the doubt in her voice. She is having to go off script, and she is terrified. She is trained to answer only certain queries as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Her job is to channel people to the right email address and move on to processing the next incoming call.

She does not know what to do next. And she has not been encouraged to say:

‘I don’t know.’ or ‘I’m not sure, but I will find out for you.’

Our greatest fear when we are anxious or dissatisfied is that we will not be seen, or worse, that we will be ignored.

What we want in those moments is not the right answer, right away. We want empathy, to be treated with humanity.

When our systems are designed to deliver and do the opposite, communication breaks down.

Sometimes insisting on being right is not the right answer.

Empathy plays a big role in delivering great customer experience.

We fail everyone in situations where we prioritise efficiency over humanity. Empathy is more important than just getting the right answers.

It is not just the people we serve who lose when we stop being human.

When we are empowered to do work we are proud of, everyone wins.

Sawubona.

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