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Behind every customer call is a real person, looking for guidance or a solution to a problem. It’s critical to engage in active listening to make that person feel truly heard, understood, and served. The more empathy you have with your customers — the more you listen to them — the more they will value their relationship with you and the product and services you offer.

We can all relate to being on the phone with a call centre agent who is clearly stuck on their call script and doesn’t seem to care about your concerns. The purpose of having real people at customer service call centres is to offer that personal touch and interaction for consumers, rather than them having to go through automated messaging.

Being able to have a real, authentic conversation is what keeps consumers engaged and coming back. Call centre strategies that lose that authenticity ultimately lose customers.

Actively listening truly is the key to effective communication. Developing and using that skill in customer service calls means having the opportunity to win a raving, life-long customer.

Tips for Better Active Listening in Customer Service:

  • Focus on what the customer is saying, rather than what you’re going to say in response
  • Focus on what the customer isn’t saying – their tone of voice, body language and facial expressions (if you can see them)
  • Don’t interrupt – nobody likes to be cut off in the middle of a sentence.
  • Give the customer your full attention, and tune out distractions; don’t multitask while talking to a customer
  • Take quick notes, but don’t let them distract you from what the customer is saying
  • Occasionally repeat what the customer has said back to them, to confirm you have the correct information, and to demonstrate your attentiveness
  • Don’t take it personally when a customer is upset – often they just want you to validate their frustration before you can move on to a solution
  • Check frequently that you are collecting the right information and understand the issue correctly
  • Do something about it later. This might seem obvious, but you can do all the listening in the world and it won’t matter if the issue isn’t fixed.