Valued Contributor II

This week I've had the privilege to rub shoulders with contractors from all over the country, and even Canada and Australia at the Service World Expo in Tampa, Florida. I attended a breakout session earlier today and got some good nuggets that I wanted to share with all of you - all about listening!

In customer service, our customers want to be heard and understood. Effective listeners listen with an intent to understand, and ineffective listeners listen with an intent to respond

Effective listeners set aside their own opinions and assumptions and ask questions to learn more. An effective listener should be present and focused with their minds clear in order to hear what the other person is saying. One of the deepest needs we have as human beings is to be understood.

Ineffective listeners are often preparing their response as they are listening to others. They jump to conclusions or believe they already know what the other person is trying to communicate. Ultimately, an ineffective listener is focused on their own needs and desires rather than those of whom they are speaking with. 

To practice becoming a more effective listener, here are some things you can try:

  • Repeat back to the customer what they have said. It forces you to listen.
  • Rephrase what they said by putting their words into your own words. It forces you to think about what they said.
  • Reflect feeling by trying to relate to the way they are feeling about the subject matter. If you're unable to relate, share that as well.
  • Show empathy by identifying the feeling they are sharing. Validate their feeling and why they are feeling that way before you offer to help. 

As you strive to become a more effective listener, remember that you can't help them if you don't fully understand their needs. Take the time you need and stay focused on each individual customer so that they can feel heard, understood, and validated.