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

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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
  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
    – 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
  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