How to Show Your Customers You’re Listening, Even as They Might not be

After my phone conversation with this past weekend, I have a renewed sense of what it takes to show good listening skills. It may seem like common sense to many, but it is really an art to get to the right balance of talking and listening in communications. 

The results will either build your brand, or contribute to its demise. There are a few techniques you can use to show your customers you’re listening, even as they might not be giving you the impression they are: 

  1. Ask questions – you’re in charge of "why" and "how", so you’ll need to focus on "what" as in what happened, and "when" it happened.
  2. Restate what they said – it’s always a good idea to repeat or restate what you heard, to play it back for the other party.
  3. Say it differently – in some cases, it’s also helpful to find another way to saying it. Perhaps you have a better handle on why and how already, so it may be a good idea to share that.
  4. Reach agreement, one step at a time – especially if this is a complicated matter, don’t try to make the whole issue go away with one answer. Keep asking probing questions and reaching agreement to move onto the next question. This is the same technique we use in solving extensive or pervasive problems – break it down into smaller steps and tackle each one separately before moving onto the next.
  5. Be pleasant and professional – your demeanor will speak volumes. Keep your tone of voice and inflection at a pleasant and professional level. I was pleasantly surprised on my call because the rep was friendly yet still professional (meeting the rules and requirements) while clearly not reading off a manual.
  6. Communicate what you need to do to help – if you need to put someone on hold, set expectations. Let them know how long they’ll need to be on hold and why. For example, for this I will need to speak with a supervisor, it will be approximately two minutes works.
  7. Finish when they’re done – I was surprised to be on the phone for longer than the time it took to take care of my questions. In fact, the rep was astutely sprinkling pauses in our conversation and earned the company a renewal on another set of services.

If you learn to do one thing well, start with listening. Everything else will follow.

Valeria Maltoni | Conversation Agent

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