Listening skills are critical for customer service representatives. In this video, Jeff Toister will walk you through several listening techniques designed for phone-based customer service. Some of these techniques include imagining you're face to face, asking clarifying questions, paraphrasing, and taking notes.
- Now we're gonna talk about some listening techniques that are specific to phone-based customer service. But first, let's take a moment to identify some of the unique challenges of listening to customers on the phone. Take a moment to think about some of the challenges you may have experienced. A few examples are distractions, pressure to get through the call quickly, the customers' rambling stories, thick accents that make the customer difficult to understand and bad phone connections. These challenges are hard enough when we're face to face with a customer, but they make listening even more difficult when we can't see the other person.
Let's listen to an example. Imagine you are working in customer service for a clothing company that serves customers who order online. Listen to the customer and try to determine what he needs. - [Voiceover] No, you're not listening! I finally got my order, but it's the wrong color. This is not the color I ordered and I was supposed to give it as a gift tonight but now I can't do anything with this! What do you want me to do, wash my car with it? - Okay, what does the customer need? Now, most people will say the customer needs to get the item reordered in the correct color.
Now that's part of it, but the customer's most pressing need is he has to give a gift that evening. The customer is stressed out because he was counting on giving what he ordered as a gift, and now he's worried that he doesn't have something to give. It sounds like it will be a big challenge to make this customer happy. But it will be an even bigger challenge if you just focus on replacing the item with the correct color rather than helping the customer feel better about not having a gift. So let's look at a few things we can do to listen carefully.
We covered techniques for tuning out distractions in a previous video, but this one bears repeating. Try to imagine you are face-to-face with your customer. Position your body towards your phone or computer as if you were speaking directly to that person. This can help you stay more focused on the conversation. It's also a good idea to ask a few questions to verify you understand what the customer needs. If you were speaking to the customer who received the wrong item, you might ask them a few questions about the gift he planned to give.
Perhaps there was a way to help him out. You can also paraphrase what the customer is telling you to confirm understanding. - Let me make sure I understand everything. You were gonna give this as a gift as this evening, but we sent you the wrong color? Did I get that right? - In many cases, paraphrasing like this can help calm down an angry customer. They feel better when they realize you understand them. Taking notes is another great way to listen.
You can keep a notepad handy, or just add notes directly into your computer system. Either way, these notes can help you capture important details about what your customer is saying. Finally, try to identify your customer's emotions. This is often the true key to helping them feel better. In my experience, many customer service professionals are overconfident about their listening skills. They think listening is easy, but in reality, it's quite hard. You can be a step ahead if you apply these techniques and make a habit of really understanding your customers.
- Developing the perfect phone greeting
- Filling dead air
- Managing holds and transfers
- Expressing empathy
- De-escalating angry callers