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Active Listening And Its Role In Improving Your Customer Service

Active Listening And Its Role In Improving Your Customer Service

Healthy human relationships are founded by effective communication, and one way to ensure its effectiveness is through active listening.

Active listening is when a person makes a conscious effort to hear the words the other person is saying. While understanding the complete message that’s communicated. 

What is active listening in customer service?

Active listening in customer service means that customer service representatives focus entirely on what the customer is saying while understanding what it means.

And then, responding in a way that validates what the customer said.

It may be done through brief verbal prompts to encourage them to keep talking and indicate that they have the agent’s attention.

Furthermore, it can be done by giving feedback through a paraphrased version of what was said by the customer for their confirmation.

By doing this, customer service agents ensure that they are on the same page as the customer.  

Why is active listening essential in customer service?

Behind every customer-support call is a real person that is looking for a solution to their problem. Customer service agents must be skilled, knowledgeable, and friendly.

To make that person feel heard, understood, and served.

According to a 2017 report by Microsoft, 30% say that the most important aspect of customer service is conversing with a knowledgeable and friendly agent.

Customer service agents can keep a friendly atmosphere and show empathy to their customers by actively listening to them. This makes active listening as a foundation for good interactions between customers and agents.

It is also one of the most powerful ways for a negative experience to turn into a positive one. Below are some reasons why active listening skills in customer service are essential. 

Importance of Active Listening In Customer Service

1. Customers Want to be Heard and Understood

An innate part of human experience is vocalizing our thoughts and feelings. As humans, customers want to be able to say what’s on their mind. And have someone listen to and understand these ideas or complaints.

It is crucial for customer service agents to actively listen to their customers to pick up important information. Which will help resolve the customer’s problem.

By active listening, the interaction is focused on the customer and is driven by their needs, and no one else’s.

Similarly, active listening is a business communication skill that is important in customer service. Especially for situations where customer service agents don’t have the resources to resolve the customer’s concerns.

What they can offer instead is their undivided attention and a listening ear for frustrated customers. 

2. Empathy Begins with Active Listening

Customers want to understand intellectually, but more importantly, they want their frustrations validated. Failing to show empathy towards customers is a prominent cause of customer service failure.

When customer service agents aren’t engaging and understanding of the customer’s problem, they feel like the concerns that they have are not valid and important.

Customer support agents can start showing empathy by actively listening to a customer until they finish saying all their concerns. People don’t want to be interrupted while talking; the same applies to customers.

By listening first, customer service agents can focus their attention on gathering vital information to help resolve the situation. At the same time, having an agent’s full attention makes the customer feel that they are not alone looking for solutions to their problems.

Furthermore, customer service agents should make the interaction personal by using pronouns such as “I” and “you,” highlighting that their priority is to help the customer. 

3. Listening is an Improvement Mechanism

When customer service agents listen to customers and clearly understand what the company or its products and services are not doing, only then can they solve the problem or look for ways to improve.

Customers are the best source of information on a company’s lapses. It is usually unscripted and unstructured feedback that provides the best insights into the experiences provided by the business.

Similarly, actively listening also provides details about what the company is doing right, making it extremely important for customer service agents to practice this skill along with the proper documentation of their conversations and the key takeaways of what to keep.

And, more importantly, what to improve. 

4. Reduces Instances of Miscommunication

Negative experiences come from miscommunications between individuals. For customer service, miscommunications can leave a bad impression on the customers. Especially, when they feel like nothing is going their way or their concerns are not addressed.

Actively listening to a customer before responding and taking action to solve their problems allow customer service representatives to gather and process all necessary information needed to help prevent miscommunication.

This also prevents customer service representatives from providing services or solutions that don’t solve the customer’s problems. 

5. Customers Tell You What to Sell Them

Like being a tool for improvement, active listening allows companies to have insights on how customers view their products and services. It also allows them to gather a lot of information on what kind of products and services are in demand for customers.

By actively listening to customer feedback, customer service agents learn how the company should pivot to meet these demands and, in turn, help the company succeed and grow. 

6. Asking Follow-up Questions

One way to reassure customers that agents listen and understands them is to ask them follow-up questions. It keeps the conversation alive, but it also allows customer service agents to clarify any information they might have picked up wrongly.

Asking follow-up questions is also a way to make sure that they are on the same level of understanding of the situation. This makes customers feel given time to voice out their concerns and even ask questions of their own.

Without practicing active listening, agents will miss the fine points that may lead to more probing questions and valuable information. 

7. Be a Skilled Listener

It isn’t hard to be a skilled listener, it does take a lot of practice, but it can also transform the customer experience. Active listening requires customer service agents to listen with their full attention without interrupting their customers.

They’re expected to show interest in the customer’s concern through brief verbal prompts that show they are looking. While doing so, they should be able to take notes and information to help them solve the customer’s problems.

After listening entirely to what the customer has to say, they should repeat what they have heard and confirm with their customers the validity of the information they picked up. Only then can they probe for more details through follow-up questions, and ultimately offer a solution. 

inforgraphic for active listening

Being a good listener makes information gathering efficient and results in the quick resolution of customer problems. This emphasizes a customer service agent’s respect for the customer’s time, which is key in providing a great customer experience.

Roland Francis Dacillo
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