Customer Service Skill – Listening to the Customer

Customer Service Skill – Listening to the Customer

Successful listening is essential for any customer service representative to achieve customer service excellence. Like any other customer service skill, active listening is a learned behavior that some people perform better than others. To provide the best customer service possible you must master this skill, especially as part of telephone etiquette when dealing with customers over the telephone.

Customer Service Representative Skill- Building – Listening to the Customer

Some common characteristics possessed by most effective listeners include:

  • Empathy.Putting yourself in the customer’s place and trying to relate to the customer’s needs, wants, and concerns.
  • Understanding.The ability to listen as customers speak in order to ensure that you realize what they want, need and expect. This is essential in properly servicing the customer.
  • Patience. Taking the time to pause and listen attentively as your customer speaks. Keep in mind that it is your job to serve the customer and that not everyone communicates in the same manner. Thus, you must put forth the effort to allow your customer to share their ideas, issues or questions without interrupting in order to determine their needs.
  • Attentiveness. By focusing your attention on the customer, you can better interpret his or her message and satisfy his or her needs. Attentiveness is often displayed through nonverbal cues (e,g, nodding or cocking of the head to one side or the other, smiling, or using paralanguage).
  • Objectivity. In dealings with customers, try to avoid subjective opinions or judgments. If you have a preconceived idea about customers, their concerns or questions, the environment, or anything related to the customers, you could mishandle the situation.

The characteristics of effective and ineffective listeners are summarized below.

Characteristics of Effective and Ineffective Listeners

Many factors can indicate an effective or ineffective listener. Over the years, researchers have assigned the following characteristics to effective and ineffective listeners. As a customer service professional, strive to master the skills in the left column and work to eliminate those in the right column in order to better serve your customers.
Effective   Listeners Ineffective   Listeners
Focused Inattentive
Responsive Uncaring
Alert Distracted
Understanding Unconcerned
Caring Insensitive
Empathetic Smug/conceited
Unemotional Emotionally involved
Interested Self-centered
Patient Judgmental
Cautious Disorganized
Open Defensive

For additional ideas on listening to the customer and providing excellent customer service, get a copy of Customer Service Skills for Success.

U.S. House passes federal ‘customer service’ bill

U.S. House passes federal ‘customer service’ bill

The House approved legislation that aims to improve “customer service” across federal agencies.  U.S. House passes federal 'customer service' billThe House passed the bill, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act (H.R. 1660), by unanimous consent on July 31. According to the bill’s sponsors, the legislation will build on existing performance management frameworks to track service delivery across the government and speed up service. The bill now heads to the Senate.

“Just like the private sector strives to provide excellent customer service to bring in business, the federal government should embed better service to bring efficiency,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). “I have a strong belief that we owe our taxpayers more than delays and service breakdowns – we owe them an effective, efficient, and responsible government because, ultimately, the government is in the business of customer service.”

The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to develop baseline customer service standards that agencies must use to improve response times for citizen inquires to federal agencies, and to modernize processes to bolster the efficiency of customer service. Agencies also would have to work with OMB to create a system that allows customers to provide feedback.

The legislation also calls for the creation of a two-year pilot program under which federal process improvement experts would work with agencies that fail to meet the new service standards.

Additionally, the bill would the Office of Personnel Management to provide more detailed monitoring and reporting on the ongoing backlog for retirement claims and other benefits, as well as present regular updates on OPM’s retirement systems modernization project.


About Robert C. Lucas

Bob Lucas has been a trainer, presenter, customer service expert, and adult educator for over four decades. He has written hundreds of articles on training, writing, self-publishing, and workplace learning skills and issues. He is also an award-winning author who has written thirty-seven books on topics such as, writing, relationships, customer service, brain-based learning, and creative training strategies, interpersonal communication, diversity, and supervisory skills. Additionally, he has contributed articles, chapters, and activities to eighteen compilation books. Bob retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after twenty-two years of active and reserve service.

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