Active Listening Applied to Customer Service

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The role of a Customer Service Agent can be daunting. Customers today have a lot of access to information and services online so they can resolve more straightforward questions on their own. As such, the sorts of calls CSRs receive have drastically increased in complexity over the past two decades. Instead of the occasional slow pitch call/chat breaking up the harder customer conversations, agents are now often interacting with the trickiest issues. In this era of the super-customer, it has never been more important to train contact centers to practice Active Listening.

Active Listening Tips for Customer Service Reps

Active Listening applied to customer service means listening to the customer with a desire to comprehend, support, empathize, and remove friction. There are a few high-level tips that can help coach agents to practice Active Listening:

  • Be Fully Present – Eliminate all distractions from the conversation and fully engage with the customer. Your attention should be felt on the call, chat, or video.
  • Wear Their Shoes – Project yourself into the customer’s perspective. Watch for the true emotions or needs behind the thoughts they express. 
  • Ask for Clarification – Dig deeper into what the customer is saying. Even if a positive statement is made, ask for more detail (Glad you liked it! What was your favorite part?).
  • Synthesize Information – Summarize and repeat back what you are understanding from the conversation. This forces us to process the important details.
  • Make it Easy for Them – Relentlessly look for ways that you can make things easier for them. Customers love to feel you’re eliminating work for them.

These tips come in handy, especially when dealing with customers that are angry or frustrated. Active Listening generates an empathy that acts as a calming air for the conversation. An important thing to keep in mind, if these tips are practiced correctly, it should feel like you are making an effort. It is called active for a reason! That said, the lift is well worth it—the results will trickle to all of your contact center metrics.