Active Listening – The Key to Effective Customer Service
Customer service is one of the most vital aspects in any business so much so that many successful business entrepreneurs and members of senior management consider this as one of the keys that would spell the success or failure of the company as a whole. For this reason, it is quite common that a considerable amount of the company’s resource is allocated towards this department.
To have an effective and efficient workforce in a company’s customer service department, it is important that the employees assigned to this department possess a certain number of skills that go beyond knowing the various products and services being offered by the company as well as standard operating procedures. In fact, some of the most important skills a customer service representative must possess are those that, ironically, are given lesser attention during the training. One of these skills is listening skills.
While providing customer representatives the required knowledge about the company is important, ensuring that the customer service representatives have efficient listening skills spells all the difference between the company’s external customers feeling satisfied or dissatisfied with your company. Unfortunately, not everyone possess such skills the moment they become part of the workforce and as such, it is highly recommended to ensure that the training department of any company facilitates effective acquisition of this skill by newly hired customer service representatives of your company.
There are generally two kinds of listening skills: passive and active listening. Of the two, active listening is considered to be the key to effective customer service. Through active listening, customer service representatives are able not only to bring your company’s external customer into an interactive conversation to help them understand what the immediate needs of the customer are at that particular point in time. Active listening also helps customer service representatives the ability to respond immediately and appropriately to the needs of the customer, resulting in a high level of customer satisfaction.
Active listening skills develop over a period of time. If you are a customer service representative that sees your listening skills could use a little bit of help, here are just some tips to help you improve on your active listening skills which would result to an improvement in your work performance.
The first thing to do is to make sure that you tune out any and all forms of distraction that would cause you to shift your focus from the customer you are assisting. At this particular moment in time, regard the customer as the most important thing to you.
Paraphrase What the Customer Said
One way to practice active listening is to paraphrase what the customer said and ask this to them. This works in two ways. You are able to make the customer feel that you are genuinely concerned and willing to assist by making sure that you understand what exactly the customer is saying. At the same time, you are able to pinpoint the main problem of the customer, allowing you to provide the necessary assistance within a short period of time.
This is where many customer service representatives tend to fail. Apart from being able to paraphrase what the customer is saying, it is also important to ask the right questions to make sure that the entire concern of the customer is understood. Asking the right questions would make sure that you are able to get a full understanding of the needs of the customer which would, in turn, help you in finding the best solution for his or her need.