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More often than we’d like to notice, salespeople and service representatives get extremely focused on the presentation of their product or service and thus failing to actively listen to the customer.
This is a surefire way to ruin the customer experience, that act of not listening or even worse not comprehending what the customer is saying is a cardinal sin in the customer centric world that the contact center industry has become.
The ability of active listening is sought out skill when recruiting new employees. Agents that are able to master the art of active listening are able to swiftly pinpoint customers needs and desires, and will easily match them with the best available product or service.
They will simply guide them along the way, providing tips when it comes to choices thus creating exceptional customer experience.
So what is this mysterious art of active listening?
Active listening is a process that teaches your agents to focus on the caller, by showing empathy and paying close attention to their feelings, listening for key information and paraphrasing the information conveyed during the conversation in order to clarify their understanding of the topic.
Step 1: Become customer-centric.
Contact center managers and agents alike new to understand that in order to provide excellent customer service your business needs to become customer-centric. Giving the customers your undivided attention is the first step in achieving this goal.
Customer service training should include visualization methods that enforce eye contact, role play as if the customers are sitting just across from agents. This will encourage them to actively listen to what is being said, and agents will pay attention to multiple details, like tone, vocabulary used by the customer and voice volume.
Step 2: Pinpoint key information.
When it comes to delivering great service and support, identifying key information is essential. Thanks to active listening techniques your agents will easily pinpoint customer needs, desires and problems thus reducing the average handle time and bumping customer satisfaction up a notch.
Faster highlighting of problems will lead to increase in first-contact resolution, enabling your agents to handle more customer queries per day.
Step 3: Feeling and empathy.
When contact center agents pay attention to customer feeling, it gives them hints and tips as how to handle the call, which leads to a successful resolution.
A customer that’s obviously in a hurry? Provide him with an approximate time to complete the desired task or order. Another common example, if the customer is clearly upset, show empathy and use it as an edge during the communication process.
Personalized customer service is a small, but often well appreciated touch.
Step 4: Paraphrase to clarify.
The final step of successful active listening is clarification of understanding. In order to be absolutely sure of what the customer desires, needs or what problems is he experiences and reassuring him that we do understand his explanation, contact center agents should paraphrase the customer and ask a confirmation question. This method will reassure the customer that they have been heard and their query will be taken care of.
Customer service training should give employees appropriate tools of the trade, so that they effectively comprehend the information, and convey their understanding back, to reassure the customer.