Thursday, August 19, 2010

Six Top Tips to Sharpen Your Listening Skills in Customer Service


By Debra Stevens


In a recent email to my customers, I discussed the importance of customer retention through effective handling of the customer complaints. I identified that strong active listening skills are vitally important; indeed it's often an area explored through role play on quality customer service training workshops and one I subscribe to in my own workshops.

Think very carefully about the people you are drawn toward? Do they talk over you, do they hold eye contact, do their eyes show interest and do they listen to what you have to say without interruption because they are genuinely interested in you as a person? Interesting isn't it? I bet you have already identified this with someone you know, but have never put your finger on why it is you enjoy being around them so much. If you can master the art of listening (it must be genuine other wise you customer will no straight away) just think how powerful it would be to have it in your customer service tool kit.

What are the top tips for active listening skills?

Openness

It's important to enter the dialogue with a positive mental attitude, which means focusing entirely on absorbing the important information. Leave out any pre-conceived notions.

No Judgments
Resist making judgments too early in the conversation; be an information miner and don't jump to any conclusions. Your goal is resolution, not making the client think the same way as you.

The Body

Make sure your body language is neutral and open. A huge proportion of our communication is delivered through our posture and gesture. Eye contact is probably the most important factor, but there are others.

Feedback
Although you don't want to interrupt the speaker, give them physical verbal signs that you are listening and understand what they are saying.

Language

Listen out for key words or phrases from your speaker. By mirroring their language, you will increase their feeling of being empathised with.

Clarification

Don't be afraid to ask for clarification or for key points to be summarised. However, don't put it in your words, with a spin on it - keep it simple, as they have presented it to you.

If you can practice theses skills it will go a long way to helping you achieve brilliant customer service, you might even enjoy it along the way.