By now, we’ve established the importance of superior customer service skills in the success of your business – but if you missed that information, check out this post for some eye-opening statistics about just how significantly harmful poor customer service can be for businesses.
So, you’re convinced that providing the tools for your employees to develop their Service Mentality will be a benefit to your company’s bottom line. What more could there be to delivering great customer service?!
A lot more, as it turns out
While providing respectful, timely, and positive customer service is certainly the first step towards attracting and retaining loyal customers, superior customer service is more nuanced than it might seem. One of the important aspects of ensuring your employees have the skills to provide excellent customer service? Listening skills.
When carrying out a customer-facing job, listening to the customer seems like the bare minimum responsibility. What many people fail to grasp, however, is that hearing the customer and listening to the customer are two very different concepts. This one seemingly subtle difference could be the key to unlocking a next-level customer service experience for your customers.
What’s the difference between hearing and listening?
For most people, hearing the customer is a simple task. Hearing is a physical act. It’s generally passive and requires little effort on the part of the employee. Listening, however, is an intellectual process that involves attention and consideration being given to the noise in question (in this case, the noise is your customer speaking to you). In order to provide the highest level of customer service, it is fundamental for any employee providing service to customers, whether internal or external, to understand that their responsibilities go far beyond simply hearing the customer.
Why does listening matter?
To answer this question, think about the relationships you have in your own life. It’s likely that you wouldn’t want to spend much time around someone who doesn’t listen to what you have to say. With friendships, family, or romantic relationships in particular, failure to truly listen and respond to what the other person has to say is not exactly conducive to keeping that person in your life in a meaningful capacity. We feel more connected to people who listen to us; this, in turn, increases our feelings of loyalty and trust.
The same is true, on a less intense level, of the customer/employee interaction. Employees in customer-facing jobs will frequently be faced with situations that require them to problem-solve for customers who are experiencing a wide range of emotions. When an employee only hears what the customer has to say, they may simply go through the motions of solving the problem. While this sounds like the correct course of action, there could be a number of undesirable results from doing the bare minimum here.
- Missing key information from the customer that would allow you to more effectively connect with them
- Giving the customer the impression that you don’t care about their situation
- Causing frustration for the customer by jumping to conclusions, making assumptions, or requiring them to repeat their information
And it doesn’t stop there. According to Salesforce’s 2020 survey of 12,000 consumers worldwide, 66% of respondents expressed that they expect businesses to understand and respond to their unique needs while 68% of those surveyed reported that they expect businesses to demonstrate empathy. It is quite simply impossible to respond to a customer’s needs and express empathy if the employee involved in the customer service interaction isn’t listening to what the customer has to say.
Consumers surveyed for Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report listed ‘having to repeat my information multiple times as the third most frustrating aspect of customer service experiences. Clearly, active listening from company representatives matters to customers.
Tips for becoming a better listener
Luckily, there are a variety of tips to onboard that will help your employees to sharpen their customer service listening skills, setting your company apart from the competition in this important way. These include:
- Taking notes while on a call – by noting down some of the details that the customer gives you, you’re challenged to stay present and actively listening
- Use phrases to put the customer at ease – by ensuring the customer that you’re equipped to help, you’re building trust and setting yourself up to have a positive interaction
- Avoid interrupting the customer – even if you feel that the customer is giving away too much information, interrupting them is never the proper way to handle the situation
To learn the rest of the tips for developing excellent customer service listening skills and see them in action in order to better understand the difference these changes make, contact a ServiceSkills representative today to learn more about getting access to the full Telephone Doctor Customer Service series.