Active listening can help you become a better listener at your workplace. It is especially crucial for people in the customer support field. The objective of active listening is to understand what the other person is saying and communicate it to others.
Communication skills play a critical role in helping you throughout your professional and personal life. And one of the most imperative communication skills is active listening. It makes it easy for people in support teams to manage customers efficiently and handle things accordingly.
Many organizations and people underestimate the benefits of active listening. Developing this skill can help you in many ways, such as enhancing productivity, resolving core issues, setting expectations, etc. Let’s take a closer look at active listening.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening requires focus and vigilance so you can understand everything the other person is saying to you. The distinguishing thing about active listening from passive listening is that you need to apply self-discipline. Doing so can help you understand and absorb information quickly.
People working in customer support need to be active listeners to comprehend the customers’ problems. Without understanding them, agents might not be able to guide customers correctly.
It will ultimately make their overall experience unpleasant and harm your reputation. The process of active listening entails:
- Come up with a thoughtful response to show your engagement
- Comprehending the meaning behind it
- Listening to the message
- Retaining the information
Sometimes support agents have to deal with customers face to face. In such instances, they should show positive body language that tells the other person you are engaging with them and understanding the message.
Applying active listening at your job can help you appear more focused, and you can make better decisions by understanding the information. It can come in handy when a customer has some queries, and you actively listen to understand those questions.
Once you know what their question is about, you can make a guide them in a better way. As a result, it improves the overall customer experience and helps you retain them. Let’s go over some benefits of being an active listener.
1. Prevents you from Overlooking Essential Information
When you are actively listening to someone, you can absorb the specific details and engage them on a higher level. Hearing the whole message with focus and concentration increases the engagement levels with the customers. It is imperative for students and people receiving training or attending sessions.
Active listening allows you to recall all the details more quickly and accurately. As for people in customer support, their main job is to understand the customer’s pain points and give them the correct answer. Therefore, active listening can benefit service agents to do their job effectively.
Most importantly, team leaders have a significant responsibility on their shoulders to train and nurture people under them. You would have to listen and understand the instructions to pass them down to your team, and they can perform up to the expectations.
So, if a team leader is not an active listener, they are likely going to miss out on the specific details of the message. It could lead to confusion and hamper the team’s productivity since they won’t execute tasks properly.
2. Establishes Trust and Create Strong Relationships
Customer support is about building strong relationships with the new and potential ones to retain them. It is a crucial player in creating brand loyalties and establishing trust between the customers and businesses. You can ensure your support team understands the customers’ issues by developing active listening skills.
They can give them solutions and make better judgment calls. Also, it helps in increasing cohesiveness and harmony among the team members. Team leaders can look if they see disengagement within their team or from a particular individual. It is best to look out for the following signs within your team:
- Disengagement when you or someone else is speaking to them
- Reluctance in sharing information
- Reliance on emails and other communication methods rather than in-person meetings
These are indicators pointing out the disconnection and lack of trust between you and your team members. Therefore, you might see a decrease in productivity and if you face a situation like this, building a habit of active learning is vital.
Your team can understand your point of view if they listen actively and incorporate that message into their work. Also, team members will feel heard if you listen and take the vital information from their message to make a sound decision. In short, it will help you establish trust and build a strong team.
3. Cultivates Compassion and Empathy
Usually, people contact customer support agents regarding any issue they face with your business’s product or service. Therefore, call center agents have to show patience and calmness to understand the customer’s issues. And this is where active learning comes into play.
Also, customers can show a mixed range of emotions, such as frustrations, anger, etc. It will further upset them if you are not actively listening to customers and understanding their problems. So, call center agents need to develop these soft skills to help the customers.
The best thing to do is ask follow-up questions and cultivate empathy through them. You can empathize with customers and convey to them that you understand their problems. It will ensure that the customers feel heard, and you can diffuse an escalating situation.
4. Helps in Resolving Issues
Besides customers, teams can also deal with internal issues that lead to conflicts. Small conflicts can hamper the teams’ productivity and lead to misunderstandings. The majority of times, these issues are due to team members not listening and understanding the other person’s point of view.
Therefore, active listening can eliminate any such confusion since your team members can hear and understand their peers accurately. Individuals can get entrenched in their perspectives and not listen to other person’s views vigilantly.
With the help of active listening, you can view matters from a different angle and recognize others’ feelings. Active listening lays the foundation to comprehend the other person’s message and build a culture of respect. Most importantly, call center agents can benefit from it when dealing with customers.
The agents can put themselves in the customers’ shoes and assess the problems from their angle. Once you understand their issues, you can offer them a resolution. Thus, it can help call center agents when dealing with different issues.
5. Opens You to Plenty of Benefits
Active listening is an optimal habit that can help you and your team in the long run. If your team can incorporate the active learning skill, you will see a significant change in productivity. Here are some benefits customer support teams can get from active learning.
- Customer support staff can talk with the customers to understand their pain points. The agents can know about their valid points and work on resolving them quickly.
- Active listening mitigates the chances of a bad customer experience. Since customers can feel heard regarding their concerns, they won’t leave dissatisfied.
- Sales teams can utilize active listening to engage with the customers. They can pitch them their products and services by fully understanding the customer’s point of view.
These are some benefits your team can get from incorporating active listening. Now, you might wonder how to train the customer support team to become better at it. Let’s know more about how to develop these skills in call center agents.
How to Develop the Habit of Active Listening for Call Center Agents?
No rocket science goes behind in active learning. With just a few steps, you can become a better listener and understand the other person’s message. Building this habit is vital for call center agents since they deal with customers throughout their day.
Also, it can help you avoid any internal conflicts with your team. On that note, let’s go over the steps to help you develop the habit of active listening.
Step 1 – Stay Relaxed and Maintain Focus
Firstly, you don’t have to be under pressure when listening to the other person. Call center agents should stay calm and relaxed to maintain their focus level. It will help them understand and comprehend the message from the other person.
Avoid following and focusing on any background noises that can distract you from your conversation. If there is an issue with the customer’s phone line distracting you, tell them about it.
Step 2 – Try to Create a Picture of What the Speaker is Saying
Using your imagination is an optimal way to create a mental image of the information you are getting. It will help you get a deeper insight into the other person’s issues and allow you to come up with a solution to deal with them. The best thing to do is take notes throughout the conversation.
You can remember the key points or phrases to connect with the other person. Also, avoid rehearsing what you have to say next when listening to the other person. It can get you off track, and you won’t have the same concentration level. If any thoughts roam around your head, compose yourself and refocus.
Step 3 – Avoid Interrupting
It is vital for call center agents to listen to their customers and not interrupt. It can send a bad message from your side and tip the customer off that you are not listening. So, avoid interrupting and being aggressive when you are on the call with customers.
Also, it is best to let the customers ask for solutions instead of you giving them directly. Regardless of whoever is the person on the other side, you should let them complete their point and then offer your suggestions.
Avoiding interruptions is vital for active listening since you won’t fully understand the other person before giving them solutions. Also, listening to the other person lessens the chances of countering your solution with another problem.
Step 4 – Don’t Hesitate to ask Questions
There is a possibility you might miss out on something or weren’t able to focus on it. Therefore, you can ask questions to revise that point and understand it properly. The customers won’t mind repeating the same thing if it helps you comprehend the problems they are facing.
Also, it can be an excellent way to get the conversation on track. People can face multiple problems simultaneously, and they might start talking about the next one. At that point, you can ask them to revise their initial problem and work on it first.
Step 5 – Give Regular Feedback
Last but not least, active listening helps give feedback to the other person. It shows that you maintained complete focus and concentration throughout their conversation. Whether you are dealing with someone on the phone or in person, giving regular feedback is vital.
Also, you can use phrases to show your connectivity, such as hmmm or uh-huh. Using these verbal expressions gives an impression to the other person that you are engaging with them actively. However, you should avoid overdoing it and use them at the right time.
Final Thoughts: Using Active Listening
Like any other soft skill, active learning takes time and practice for you to master. In addition, it takes other adroitness as well to help you become better at delivering the best customer service. Nevertheless, it is optimal for recruiters and hiring managers to assess an individual’s active listening skills before employing them.
It will help them determine whether there is a good fit for the customer team or not. Moreover, if you have a remote team dealing with your clientele, you can conduct regular sessions with them. You can spot the areas they lack and help them become good active listeners.