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Active Listening

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Listening Actively Means Asking Follow-up Questions

One of the best ways to reassure someone that you’re really listening, is of course to ask a lot of follow-up questions. This keeps the conversation alive! I can tell right away when my husband isn’t really listening to me, because he’s completely silent while I’m talking. Sometimes this means he’s taking in what I’m saying (rarely!), but usually it means he’s only half listening. Ironically, it’s actually when he’s being more vocal – asking a lot of questions, following up on previous points, and engaging in dialogue, that I truly feel heard.

It can be really tempting to want to wrap up each customer call as quickly as possible and move on to the next person or ticket in your queue. But the customer service representatives who truly understand effective communication knows that each customer call needs time. Customers shouldn’t be rushed. Asking follow-up questions make customers feel that they are being given the time they need to voice their concerns and even ask their own questions.

One of the best ways to not have to rush a customer call is by giving the customer the option of receiving a call-back. This allows customer service reps to really take their time with calls, since they don’t have to rush through their queues. And, it makes customers feel as though their time is valued, rather than being wasted waiting on hold.

Active Listening Fosters Understanding and Empathy

Most people call or contact customer service if they’ve encountered a problem with a company’s product or service. That means, more often than not, that call centre agents have to exhibit a great deal of calm and patience as they navigate each customer’s concerns. Active listening is especially critical in situations where customers are upset, frustrated, and perhaps exhibiting some hostility. By asking follow-up questions, relaying back their situation, and empathizing with their frustrations, customers feel truly understood and taken care of.

We can all relate to being on the phone with a call centre agent who is clearly stuck on their call script and doesn’t seem to care about your concerns. The purpose of having real people at customer service call centres is to offer that personal touch and interaction for consumers, rather than them having to go through automated messaging. Being able to have a real, authentic conversation is what keeps consumers engaged and coming back. Call centre strategies that lose that authenticity ultimately lose customers.

Click here to see a video that explains empathetic listening.