How to Listen to Customers Effectively

The role for any customer service agent is to listen to customers effectively. Customers can provide valuable feedback that can help you improve your product or service, and they can alert you to issues that may be holding your company back.
But listening effectively to customers is easier said than done, and building an entire team of customer service agents that are active listeners is a downright challenge.
Below we’ll provide information on the importance of creating a team that listens to customers effectively, how to find and build a team of service agents that are active listeners, and tips for training your team to be effective listeners.

Why is it important to listen to customers?

The short answer: Listening to customers can help you improve as a business. Effective listening can help you gather important information related to your business, and customer feedback is the best way to understand how they truly feel about the products and services you deliver.

What are four examples of active listening tips for call center?

  • Building trust and  rapport.
  • Demonstrating concern over issues or requests.
  • Repeating and paraphrasing the problem to show you understand and hear the customer.
  • Nonverbal cues for in person or video, such as eye contact and leaning in.
  • Verbal affirmations after the customer makes a statement to show you’re present such as “I see,” “I know,” and “totally get it.”

How can I improve my listening skills in customer service?

As a customer service representative, call center agent, or contact center agent, it’s natural to want to improve your active listening skills and those of your team.
To become an active listener and build rapport with customers, you’ll want to get with your team or a team member and practice weekly. The key is to focus on single one of the active listening tips for call centers below, and regularly work on that one skill. The key is repetition.
For example: If you wanted to become a more effective listener to customers, you may want to focus on showing empathy through verbal affirmations. After they raise their concern or issue, you would focus on following up with “Oh wow. I’m so sorry to hear that.” The more you focus on improving this one skill, the more it will become a regular part of your customer service communications.

10 active listening skills for call center agents

  1. Actively show that you’re tracking what your customer is saying. Using statements such as “I see,” “I understand,” etc. Following your customers statements with tracking statements lets them know you’re following what they’re saying.
  2. Never interrupt. Don’t interrupt your customers when they’re talking unless you’re just acknowledging with tracking statements. But never cut them off or interrupt them as they’re voicing their concerns.
  3. Demonstrate concern. Empathy is one of the top traits that customers want when speaking to a contact center agent. Being an effective listener also means you should be empathetic and understanding of their issue(s).
  4. Avoid distractions. In today’s world it can be easy to become distracted. However, when working to resolve a customer issue, you’ll want to avoid distractions at all costs.
  5. Repeat and/or paraphrase. Show customers that you care and are being an active listener by repeating and paraphrasing what they say, so they know you understand.
  6. Ask questions. Part of being an effective listener means asking questions so you can get to the bottom of the issue, and how you can help resolve it.
  7. Avoid arguing or becoming defense. Upset customers will naturally try and take it out on you. It’s important that you listen to their issues and refrain from arguing or becoming defense.
  8. Build trust. As you speak to customers make sure you use an empathetic and friendly tone. While doing this let customers know that you’re doing everything in your power to help them. They need to know that you are a champion here to defend them, not an obstacle in their way.
  9. Be personable. Try to relate to customers as you speak with them. This will show that you’re actively listening and help to make the experience better for them.
  10. Use positive language. When dealing with customer issues, try to refrain from using negative language. For example, instead of saying “don’t hit the red button”, you would want to say “the green button is the best choice.” Positive language helps to take away the stress that comes with customer service calls.

Final thoughts: How to listen to customers effectively

Listening to customers effectively takes a variety of skills. Some of these skills can be trained or learned, but it helps identifying candidates early-on in the hiring process who already possess the traits needed to succeed in a customer service role. You can use these customer service interview questions toe value various candidates as you build your team.
As we start to take customer service teams more remote, we also recommend downloading our checklist of the 12 must-haves you need when building your remote customer service team. In this free guide, you’ll learn how you can quickly build and take your customer service team remote.
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