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.

Effectively Taking Telephone Messages

Effectively Taking Telephone Messages

Have you ever called a business only to have the person on the other end of the phone stumble through information gathering when trying to take a message for someone else? If so, you are not alone. It often seems that companies are not investing in basic customer service skills training anymore.  After all, how hard is it to ask someone for their name and other pertinent information, write that down and give the message to the appropriate person. Apparently very hard for many customer service representatives and employees in many organizations.

Effectively Taking Telephone Messages

If you ever find yourself in the situation where you are on the receiving end of a customer’s call and need to capture information professionally, the following is a “cheat sheet” of essential things you should get and record. At a minimum, when you take a message you should get this information from a caller when you answer a phone for someone else. This will aid you in providing the best customer service possible

  • Name (correctly spelled—ask the caller for spelling and do not assume you know how they spell it. For example, my last name is spelled LUCAS. There is a nursery in town spelled LUKAS).
  • The caller’s company name.
  • Phone number (with area code and country code, if appropriate).
  • Brief message (why they are calling and what they expect to happen next).
  • When the call should be returned.
  • Time and date of the call and your name (in case a question about the message arises).

Many office supply stores sell pre-printed phone message pads to help guide message takers.

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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