In a highly globalized, noise-filled era, genuine listening has become a rather underrated element of effective communication. Even in customer service, the common call center training program focuses more on the agents’ speaking skills and less so on their active listening skills.
People who know how to listen are likely to build more harmonious relationships, solve problems more actively, and ensure understanding. These qualities are the very ones that customers expect from service providers.
What contact centers can do
A company’s communication skills training should include listening exercises to improve its agents’ competency in this area. Here are five simple tips that every call center training team can share with their agents to help them become proactive listeners.
1. Use your imagination.
Communication over the phone doesn’t allow you to see the other person’s expressions and gestures. A useful listening strategy is to picture the speaker’s message or story. Whether forming literal images or organizing abstract ideas in your head, this can help enhance your understanding of the customer’s message.
2. Empathize with the customer.
It requires ample concentration to be able to put yourself in a customer’s shoes. But if you’re able to do this, it would definitely increase your understanding of the customer’s situation. Thus, it would further encourage you to help them resolve their issues.
3. Summarize the points made during the call.
After the customers have stated their concerns, make sure to summarize the issues that have been discussed. You may use phrases like “From what you have said, our biggest concern here is…” Summarizing the discussion will confirm whether you missed any important detail that the customer previously brought up.
4. Approach each phone call with an open mind.
As a call center agent, your main job is to listen and to offer solutions. In doing this, you must suspend your judgment toward customers. Don’t quickly jump to conclusions or try to assume what caused the customers’ concerns. If you would like to clarify some points, you may ask questions but do so politely.
This may be the most important, yet most often forgotten, tip for call center agents. Being relaxed would allow you to clear out any mental distractions and focus on the matter at hand.
Training agents to become active listeners should be a key component of call center training. Make sure to share these five quick tips with your agents to enhance their interaction with customers during phone calls.