Hearing But Not Listening

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As a customer service professional, how many times have you attempted to assist a customer, only to make them angry? Did you feel as if you were having a conversation with someone who did not speak the same language as you? How did you respond? Did you just give up, or worse, try to force your will upon them? “I am trying to help you after all!!!!” Think about a scenario like this and how it ended – were you able to understand the customer and find a way to help, or did you just give up in frustration?

I have experienced these types of encounters throughout my career and they are never easy. Hearing the customer but not really listening to what they were saying would get me in trouble every time.  Let’s face it, customers are complex individuals with infinite needs, and it is very easy to get it wrong. As professionals, we are the experts in our chosen fields and we know what is best, right? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fact that we are experts we forget that sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to uncover what the customer really needs. Customers don’t always directly express their needs in a clear manner. A customer may voice a concern not to get something for free, they just want to be heard and have their opinion validated. Without the skill of attentive listening, you don’t always pick up on the real reason a customer might be unhappy.

How do you listen to your customers and hear exactly what they are saying?

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