Better Listening Means Better Service

June 7, 2018 —

Effective listening has long been recognized as an essential customer service skill. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can be missed, and a lot that can get in the way of understanding what a customer is saying, or means to say.

How can reps avoid the pitfalls to effective listening and stay focused on what the customer is trying to communicate? Stacey Hanke, a leadership consultant and author of Influence Redefined, says that the first step is acknowledging the importance of listening and prioritizing the need to do it well.

In the June issue of Customer Communicator newsletter she offers a number of techniques reps can use.

One important technique is to keep the conversation focused. To do this, Hanke recommends that reps paraphrase key points to make sure that they understand the customer before moving on.

Not only does paraphrasing prevent misunderstanding and miscommunication and allow for clarification on the part of the customer, “paraphrasing also communicates to the customer that you care, that you are listening with attention, and that their call is important,” says Hanke.

A second technique to keep the conversation focused is active listening. “Active listening is more than just hearing what someone says,” says Hanke, “It’s also about the desire to understand what someone is trying to convey.” And by using phrases like, “I see,” “Go on,” and “Tell me more,” a rep can often uncover details that might help find an appropriate resolution to the customer’s issue.

Today’s checklist …

  1. Model. As Hanke says, the first step to improving listening skills is, “acknowledging the importance of listening and prioritizing the need to do it well.” She recommends that managers, supervisors, and team leaders model the listening behavior they want to see such as: focusing on the speaker, paraphrasing, and asking open-ended questions.
  2. Subscribe to Customer Communicator newsletter so that you and your frontline staff can receive monthly ideas, information, and inspiration on improving the service experience.

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