After my phone conversation with Register.com 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:
- 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.
- Restate what they said – it’s always a
good idea to repeat or restate what you heard, to play it back for the
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.