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Ever been bowled over by someone’s kindness and compassionate response to you? Maybe they have just gone that bit further for you than you were expecting?Maybe, like me, it was at a time when you were vulnerable or distressed.

This is the story of how a small amount of compassion changed absolutely everything!

Last week my poorly old dog’s fragile health suddenly deteriorated. After taking advice we made the difficult decision that it might be best for him to be euthanised. I thought I was okay with the decision. But when I rang the vet’s it suddenly became all too real and just too painful even to say the words. I just couldn’t speak because I was so terribly upset.

The receptionist on the end of the phone was amazing! She reassured me that it was fine to take my time. She would wait until I felt able to say the words. Then she said they would do whatever they could to help us with what we wanted to happen.

Her words and her kindness had an immediate impact on me. Yep – I was still distressed but I felt profoundly touched by her compassion and kindness. It comforted and helped me so much.

People tend to think of compassion as being just something that doctors and nurses use. But compassion is something we can use in any part of our working lives – in any role. Especially front facing customer service roles.

Being Compassionate Towards Others Makes You Feel Good Too!

Being compassionate towards someone isn’t just about altruism – we get a lot from it too! When we feel and show compassion towards someone else there’s a chemical reaction within our brain and a release of a cocktail of feel good hormone. Oxytocin (love hormone), dopamine (reward) and serotonin (anxiety reduction) all are released just because you are helping someone else. This makes you feel good too! It’s clever stuff!

It’s a Win-Win situation!

So Just What is Compassion?

It is understanding someone else’s situation and feeling compelled to take action to help them improve their situation.

Compassion Makes Better Customer Service

Time and time again studies show that it is human contact and connection that makes us more likely to buy something, more likely to recommend somewhere – even when it isn’t perfect. We are more likely to give our loyalty to a company. Using a scripted response puts people’s backs up but a genuine interest in you and what is happening to you unlocks a successful business.

Sadly the importance of this role is often neglected by companies. Receptionists are the door to an organisation yet aren’t rewarded either financially or with acknowledgement by senior people within a company.

A lack of human connection is another reason why we get so frustrated when we call a company and get presented with automated options but can’t speak to a real person.

Sometimes it’s the pressure to meet targets that gets in the way of good customer service. Showing compassion can take a bit more time. It does take self-awareness and sensitivity. Some people will find it easier than others. Although it can be developed.

Where the focus is on quantity it’s likely there will be a compromise of quality. But creating a working environment where showing compassion is encouraged will make all the difference.

Back to my old dog! He picked up. So we decided to postpone the visit from the vet. It’s day by day at the moment.

But the response of the receptionist to my moment of need is something I won’t forget in a hurry. And chances are I will need her support again before very long!

What stories have you got about when compassion changed everything for you?

Adelle Shaw-Flach is Director of The Sweet Potato Consultancy. She brings her skills as public health nurse and academic to the business world to help businesses hold onto their best people.

She also has 2 lovely dogs – an old one and a young one!

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