Having the ability to listen is one of the most important skills that you can learn in business as companies love to hire employees who have good listening and communication skills. In fact, poor listening on behalf on an employee can end up causing organizations huge losses each year due to mistakes caused by employees who didn’t get the facts right.
There are many reasons to become a good listener as doing so allows you to become more efficient and productive, gives you the ability to demonstrate empathy and build better relationships with customers and co-workers.
There are many distractions that can impact your ability to carefully listen to your customer such as side conversations, background noise, up and coming meetings, your supervisor waiting to talk to you, a previous rude customer, social media, email notifications, data entry, etc. These distractions can be easily overcome by following some guidelines on how to actively listen while on a customer call.
Actively listening and actually comprehending what the customer is saying is a skill that can be developed with proper training and practice. Below are some tips that you can practice on a daily basis to help improve your listening skills:
- Focus: Stay focused on the purpose of call and listen for the facts or ideas being presented. Pay attention to the callers tone of voice and try to understand the message the caller is telling you from their point of view.
- Take Notes: Take notes as you listen to capture key points that you can refer to later.
- Eliminate Distractions: Try to prevent yourself from becoming distracted by colleagues and side conversations. Listen carefully and do not multi-task by checking emails, texts, Facebook or continuing to do data entry. Remember the caller deserves your undivided attention.
- Demonstrate Empathy: Listen to the emotion in your caller’s voice. Adjust your own tone of voice accordingly by showing empathy and interest in what the caller is saying.
- Don’t interrupt: You listen more effectively when you’re not talking, so refrain from interrupting your caller. Listen objectively and let them finish what they are saying as interruptions may break their train of thought.
- Ask questions: When in doubt as to what your caller is saying, ask patient, relevant questions to gain more information on points you need to clarify. This shows the customer that you are interested in what they are saying and that you are taking responsibility for the call.
- Stay Positive: If you encounter an assertive, angry, upset customer, don’t allow your attitude to slip and become negative. Take a moment to reflect on how this impacts your attitude and then make a choice to retain a positive attitude as this will make the rest of your day much happier.
- Confirm and Summarize: Let the customer know you understand what they are saying by summarizing the conversation. Use statements such as “I understand”, “I agree”, “I see”, “You’re right”. These are all great ways to reflect back and summarize. Refer back on your notes by asking questions such as “It’s my understanding that we will be installing on…” or “May I take a moment to confirm what you’ve said?”. If your customer is upset, emphasize with them by saying statements such as “I understand how you are feeling right now. I will get this resolved as soon as possible.”
- Ask the Customer to Repeat Some Information: While it’s not good to ask callers to constantly repeat information, if you are having difficulty listening, you could say, “I’m sorry I missed what you just said. Could you please repeat that for me?.
Improve your Active Listening skills by taking an Active Listening E-Learning course offered on officeskills.org.