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Active listening for effective customer service

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[FILES] Listening is the least skill taught, yet it is used 45 per cent of the time. Photo: PIXABAY

Last week, we examined the first part of Effective Skills for Excellent Customer Service for businesses, organisations, companies, and individuals. We continue with the concluding part, this week.

Listening is the least skill taught, yet it is used 45 per cent of the time. Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is an inherent ability while listening is an acquired skill, a mental process that can be learned and refined with practice.

Contemporary literature typically defines three levels of listening:
Level 1: Internal Listening — Listening to your inner voice.

Level 2: Focused Listening — Listening intently to another person.

Level 3: Global Listening — Listening to others in the context of their entire surroundings.

If you work in customer service, you probably already know that the little things can make a big difference. Customers are humans and they have feelings, so you need to keep in mind the communication problems that might arise, but also the emotions, which will become quite important.

Therefore, issues such as ACTIVE LISTENING are important. Active listening is the act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another in a conversation or speech. Active listening is an important business communication skill, and it can involve making sounds that indicate attentiveness, as well as the listener giving feedback in the form of a paraphrased rendition of what has been said by the other party for their confirmation.

When it comes to customer service, active listening is a key element in order to offer an excellent image of your business to the client by solving their problems effectively. However, this might not be as simple as it seems when dealing with loads of clients, remember that all of them are different.
Benefits of active listening

Some benefits to listening that can never be gained by talking are:
• Listening builds trust. The best customer service people are good listeners who seem concerned with customer needs and help them navigate to solve a problem or provide excellent service.

• Listening lowers resistance. It reduces tension and defensiveness on the part of customers.

• Listening builds self-esteem for customers. It’s flattering for a customer to know that he/she is being listened to, intently to what’s being said.

Listening is a skill that needs constant development. When customer service employees listen more, what they hear sounds less repetitious and more meaningful.

5 Approaches that help promote active listening:
1. Focus
This is one of the key points of active listening. The person who pays attention to the customer must focus on them in order to correctly understand their message (especially when it comes to technical questions). In order to achieve this, you have to remove all external elements that might be distracting (music, noise, etc.), but also the person must have a high level of concentration. Therefore, a good night’s rest, a healthy diet, sports, and frequent breaks during the workday will improve active listening.

2. Have a little patience
If you want to improve active listening then you must patient. If you don’t let your customer finish talking because you really want to talk or because you already have an answer then you will miss an important part of his message. You should not interrupt them, or draw conclusions in advance; remember these two things if you want to improve active listening.

3. Have empathy
It is essential when it comes to customer service. If you are able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it will be easier for them to connect emotionally with you, which will help you understand his problem, and will also help you have greater sympathy. Empathy is one of the most important factors in the emotional part of customer service. To help you develop this, here it goes a classic phrase from a Greek philosopher Plato that will help you put yourself in someone else’s shoes: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

4. Show real interest
It does not matter how big the concentration, patience, or empathy is, if you are not able to transmit these to your customer, your customers might think that their problems are not interesting for the company since the employees are not paying attention. Fortunately, showing that you care about their problems is not too complicated. Little things, such as making eye contact, nodding, or making small affirmations can help you show interest.

5. Sum up the key points
After having listened to the complete message of your customer, mention again the essential things that you have understood that need to be solved so that he can confirm that you have correctly grasped his message. It will help you to correct possible errors and will also let them know that you are interested in their problems.


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