Becoming a Better Listener

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Are you working with a new customer? Has your customer come to you with a concern? Are your customers coming to you with a need that they don’t quite know how to solve? No matter who you talk to, listening well can help you fully understand the situation and have better answers.

Active listening is a great skill, and better, more active listening can help you make the sale, take care of customer concerns, and more with ease. Here are just a few tips.

1. Give Them Your Full Attention
Have you ever talked to someone who was visibly distracted? Especially when your customer has a pressing need or concern, your customer wants you to listen attentively to them. Put your phone on mute, look them in the eye, nod, and smile while they’re talking. Not only will it reassure your customer, but it will help ensure that you have a complete understanding of what they are asking of you.

And, if they’re not asking their question in person or over the phone…

2. Interacting in Text? Read Carefully
With an increasing number of customer interactions happening on social media, it’s essential to read carefully. Read the messages you receive twice—or even three times—to ensure that you have all the information you need to respond.

3. Ask Questions
Having a full understanding of the task at hand is important, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Was something unclear? Do you need more detail? Take a moment to ask questions of your customer to ensure that they have articulated everything clearly.

4. Ready to Respond? Take a Pause
Whether you’re talking to a customer in person, over the phone, or via chat, taking a moment to respond helps ensure that your customer is actually done speaking. This gives them a chance to finish their thought without being interrupted and give you a chance to decide what is most important to discuss. Did your customer raise an important question, or was there anything that confused you or needed clarification? Taking the time to pause, even for a moment, can help you collect your thought and choose the next step in the conversation.

If you’re talking to your customer online, It’s just as important to pause. Take a moment to re-read your response to ensure that it addresses any questions you might have and says everything that needs saying.

5. Paraphrase
When you think you’ve understood, be sure to repeat what your customer has said. However, don’t try to quote them directly—say it in your own words to ensure that what you think they need is actually what they need.