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Customer Service Training: Learn How to Actively Listen Rachel Miller

Fre­quently, sales­peo­ple and ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives become so focused on what they want to say about their prod­uct or ser­vice that they fail to actively lis­ten to the cus­tomer. Not listening–and even worse not com­pre­hend­ing what is being said—is a sure­fire way to ruin the cus­tomer experience.

Employ­ees with great active lis­ten­ing skills are able to quickly pin­point cus­tomers’ needs and desires, match needs and desires with the best prod­uct or ser­vice, and expertly guide them through the call.

What is Active Listening?

Active lis­ten­ing is a four-step process that teaches employ­ees to focus on the caller, lis­ten for key infor­ma­tion, lis­ten for key feel­ings, and clar­ify their under­stand­ing of what is being said.

Step 1: Focus on the customer.

To best serve and sup­port cus­tomers, call cen­ter agents must learn to give callers 100% of their atten­tion, from the start of the call to the end. Cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing that includes active lis­ten­ing tech­niques will com­monly sug­gest that employ­ees imag­ine that they are sit­ting across from callers. This visu­al­iza­tion method encour­ages employ­ees to focus on what is being said by callers, and to pay atten­tion to details like tone, word usage, and voice volume.

Step 2: Lis­ten for key information.

Iden­ti­fy­ing key infor­ma­tion is inte­gral to pro­vid­ing great ser­vice and sup­port. When an employee uses active lis­ten­ing skills to pin­point cus­tomer desires, needs, and prob­lems, aver­age han­dle time decreases and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion increases. Quickly high­light­ing the rea­son for the call allows the agent to progress through each call faster, which frees up time to han­dle a higher num­ber of calls per day.

Step 3: Lis­ten for key feelings.

Feel­ings are just as impor­tant as facts. When employ­ees notice cus­tomer feel­ings it gives them clues as to how best they can han­dle the call. If a caller is upset or appears to be short on time, notic­ing this feel­ing will give the employee an advan­tage. When faced with a hur­ried cus­tomer, an agent can state the time required to com­plete a request so the caller knows exactly how much time they will need to ded­i­cate to get the desired results. Using active lis­ten­ing skills to deter­mine feel­ings is a proven way to pro­vide per­son­al­ized ser­vice and sup­port that cus­tomers will appreciated.

Step 4: Clar­ify understanding.

Clar­i­fi­ca­tion of under­stand­ing is the final step suc­cess­ful active lis­ten­ing. To rein­force that caller desires, needs, prob­lems have been heard and under­stood, employ­ees can para­phrase the cus­tomer and ask a con­firm­ing ques­tion. For exam­ple, if a cus­tomer is hav­ing issues with a new lap­top the agent could say, “You said ear­lier that lap­top turns off unex­pect­edly, but reboots ok – is that cor­rect?” Restat­ing what a cus­tomer said reas­sures the cus­tomer that they have been heard and their request will be taken care of. Cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing that incor­po­rates active lis­ten­ing skills gives employ­ees the tools they need to effec­tively hear and under­stand cus­tomers, and appro­pri­ately con­vey their under­stand­ing back to customers.

Ben­e­fits of Active Listening

The above steps will assist employ­ees in build­ing rap­port with cus­tomers and quickly pro­cess­ing requests. When employ­ees actively listen—customers will notice! Equip­ping agents with the tools to proac­tively serve and sup­port cus­tomers will increase your center’s pro­duc­tiv­ity, and increase revenue.

Rachel Miller has 10 years of e-commerce & e-marketing expe­ri­ence with a pas­sion for social media and all things vel­cro. A ded­i­cated cus­tomer ser­vice advo­cate Rachel believes that every job is a cus­tomer ser­vice job.
Rachel Miller
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  • http://twitter.com/KareAnderson Kare Ander­son

    Rachel, what apt and action­able advice, espe­cially as research shows peo­ple are lis­ten­ing less and more likely to refer back to them­selves sooner. See related insights here

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kareanderson/2012/08/31/the-secret-to-staying-sought-after/

  • Anony­mous

    Hi Kare,
    Thanks so much for your com­ment and related info. Lis­ten­ing is crit­i­cal to effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion in all busi­ness settings.

  • Sybil

    Active lis­ten­ing is very impor­tant before we address customer's concern.






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