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Are you Listening? 3 Ways to Build Better Listening Skills

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Phyllis Gillman in Customer Service

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It may seem simple, but providing a great customer service experience begins with being an engaged listener. The key is to not just hear what a customer has to say, but trying to understand their point of view and the situation they find themselves in.

The ability to understand what a customer is trying to communicate helps ensure that you provide relevant, accurate solutions to their problems. This also helps customers feel like they are not only communicating, but are connecting with someone who wants to resolve their issue in a timely manner. No one wants to feel as though their time is being wasted!

One of my favorite ways to get to the heart of what it means to listen is to break down the differences between hearing and listening. This is how Dan Bobinski breaks down the two definitions:

Hearing: The act of perceiving a sound by ear -- hearing happens passively. If your ears are functioning as designed, you can hear.
Listening: Truly trying to understand another person's point of view. Listening requires an active, conscious choice. To listen, you must have a purpose in your heart and apply mental effort.

With that definition of listening in mind, here are some practical ways to work on building your listening skills:

1)   Be 100% Present

With a bunch of tasks and checkboxes floating around in your head each day, it can be hard to be fully present when you are engaging with a customer. However, if you are distracted or trying to multi-task while you listen to a customer, you run the risk of missing crucial pieces of information. This can lead to customers not feeling valued and you may even have to spend more time asking questions for clarification in the end.

2)   Take Notes

When someone is explaining a complicated situation or is simply speaking for a long time, it’s easy to lose track of details, even the important ones. As a part of your conscious choice to listen, you can follow and remember specific, key points about your customer’s situation by taking down notes. This way, you can be confident you have all your facts straight before responding.

3)   Repeat or Rephrase

Sometimes we think we understand an issue or concept when we actually don’t. Try to repeat or rephrase both the main issue and any details that may be crucial in the customer's situation before moving forward and suggesting a solution. The last thing you want is miscommunication, which leads to the wrong problem being solved or unanswered questions. Just make sure not to interrupt the customer when doing so!

Great listening takes some practice, but it's worth it when a customer is left feeling like they were heard and valued!

Finally, if you know a CSR who is doing a great job, remember our CSR Champion Nomination is still up and running! Use this form to nominate a deserving coworker in customer service and we'll reach out to them and reward them with a $10 gift card for their great work.

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As a 29-year customer service veteran in the insurance industry, Phyllis Gillman has spent more than her fair share of time helping clients and customers. In her long stint in the industry, she’s answered over 702,000 phone calls.


You can stay updated on Phyllis’ favorite customer service tips, tricks and trends by subscribing here.





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