Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Overcoming listening barriers, part of Customer Service Foundations.
Listening to customers isn't always easy. Many work environments are full of distractions that can make it hard to concentrate. Customers don't always explain their needs clearly and concisely. Sometimes our own natural instincts can make it hard to listen. I'd like to show you a couple of examples. >> Hello this is customer service, how may I help you? Uh-huh. Yes. Thank you. I'm sorry I didn't catch that. What'd you say? >> The customer service rep in the video had a difficult time paying attention to her customer because she was trying to do too many things at once.
It's natural to want to multi task when we have a lot of work to do but we're just not very good at it. Working on other tasks instead of giving our customer full attention can cause us to miss something important. Here are a few things you can do to avoid multi-tasking. Put other tasks aside when you are serving a customer. Politely acknowledge people who interrupt you And return your attention to the person you are serving. Above all else remind yourself to tune out distractions and focus on the customer.
Now let's look at another example of a natural barrier that can make it hard to listen to customers. >> Hi, can I help you? >> Oh yes, I had a question, is it 25% off of every? >> Yes it is. You get 25% off of the lowest price. >> Okay, but what I want to know is if you get 25% off every? >> Yes, you even get 25% off clearance items. >> That's, that's not what I'm asking. When does the sale end? >> Oh, it's on until Sunday. >> That's good to know. I'll just keep looking if you don't mind. >> Okay. Interrupting customers isn't a good idea but the employee in the last video just couldn't help herself.
Our brains naturally look for familiar patterns and can quickly jump to conclusions there's a good chance that employee had been asked many times to explain whether or not the sale covered clearance items. When the customers question initially fit this familiar pattern. The employee instinctively stopped listening because she thought she knew the answer. You can prevent this from happening to you by concentrating carefully on what your customer's saying. Reminding yourself to avoid interrupting and paraphrasing what they tell you.
Try slowing down just a bit to make sure you get the entire message before responding. Here's an activity you can try to see what listening barriers you encounter. First, ask yourself whether you've encountered the following listening barriers: multitasking, jumping to conclusions, distractions in the work environment, feeling tired or ill, pressure to serve customers quickly, rude or angry customers, or language barriers. Next, think about ways you can use active listening skills to overcome these listening barriers.
There are a few tactics that work well for nearly every challenge. Face the customer and make eye contact when serving someone in person. Concentrate on what the customer's saying. Try to suspend judgement to avoid jumping to conclusions. Ask clarifying questions. And paraphrase what the customer is telling you. Many customer service professionals have told me that the number one way they overcome listening barriers is to remember that they can only serve one customer at a time. They consciously tune out outside distractions, interruptions and long lines of waiting customers to give the customer they're serving their full attention.
When you apply that same level of focus on serving your customers. You'll have a better chance of avoiding these listening barriers too.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.