How Active Listening Can Improve Customer Service
Anyone who has taken a seminar on active listening knows that it is tougher than it looks. In our jobs, we get used to the same customer inquires and stop listening the same way that we did when we started. However, refreshing our active listening skills can help improve customer service greatly. Here’s how active listening will help your customer service efforts.
What is Active Listening?
Very Well Mind defines active listening as the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and withholding judgement and advice.
While active listening is important for all aspects of life, such as maintaining relationships and defusing confrontations, it’s especially important for customer service.
Catch Unusual Circumstances
When you’re actively listening to someone, you try not to draw conclusions until they are completely done talking. This allows you to understand any unique elements to the customer’s inquiry or any important information they have to share.
For example, you might typically hear a customer say that they can see a bird’s nest in their roof, but when you arrive it is actually a squirrel’s nest, which is fairly rare in roofs. Perhaps that customer would have gone onto explain that it’s a very big nest, and they haven’t actually seen a bird, if you were listening. Active listening helps you find out what a customer really means, even when they don’t know what their specific problem is.
Catching unusual circumstances helps you arrive to every call prepared, so you don’t waste your time and don’t frustrate customers by wasting theirs.
You probably started in your line of work with a great deal of empathy for your customer’s plight. But, much like a doctor who has seen a hundred broken legs, when a customer’s plight becomes your everyday, you become less sensitive to it. But, to a customer, their broken furnace or overflowing toilet is still an emergency, and they need you to care about it just as much as you would have when you started your business.
Active listening can help reconnect you to the worry that your customer’s face. Maybe they will explain how their broken faucet or roof leak is affecting them.When you’re more empathetic you will provide better service motivated by genuine care. As a bonus, you may also find it easier to remember why you find your work to be fulfilling.
Change Customer Perception
What if active listening doesn’t change your attitude or how prepared you arrive to calls? It will still change how your customers perceive you and the service that you provide. No one wants to feel like they were cut off, that someone isn’t really listening to them, or that they are boring. When you practice active listening, your body language, tone of voice, and responses will all tell customers that their business is important to you. That shift in perception will help customers walk away with a better opinion of your business, even if you give them the exact same quality of service either way.
If you listen carefully to a customer, you can often catch when they have misunderstood something that you’ve said. If you’re rushing off the phone, you may not catch a customer say, “I’ll see you at three,” when really their appointment is at four o’clock. If you do catch a miscommunication like this, then you have the opportunity to correct the mistake before it ruins your customer’s experience.
Overall, active listening is an essential skill to deliver even basic customer service.