Listening to our clients' customers is something we take very seriously at HigherRing. We work closely with all of our agents to ensure they understand what it means to be an active listener.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is the ability to focus completely on a caller to understand their message, comprehend the information and respond thoughtfully. Active listening ensures we are able to engage and later recall specific details without needing information repeated. Asking for information to be repeated is a clear sign that the listener is not engaged in the conversation.
Active listening requires discipline, focus and constant practice. It's often referred to as mindful listening because just like in meditation, we must bring a wandering mind back to the conversation.
How do our callers know we are Actively Listening? 1. We try to avoid long pauses by interjecting some short verbal affirmations. "I see," "I understand," or "that makes sense." Phone conversations are a dance and while ill-timed interjections are akin to stomping on feet, no sound at all is like your partner just walked off the dance floor and left you there.
2. We paraphrase and summarize what the speaker tells us to allow them the opportunity to clarify vague or incorrect information. "So you are unhappy with the method of shipping and would prefer a different carrier. Is that correct?"
3. We ask probing questions that encourage the caller to provide more details about the information they’ve shared. Our questions can help narrow down a broad subject or topic. "Are you unable to have any packages delivered to your address or is it or is it just an issue with UPS?"
4. We wait until we’ve heard the whole issue or problem before we jump into investigating, pulling up orders, and brainstorming solutions. The human mind can really only do one thing well at a time and fully listening before investigating can keep us present and actually save time throughout the conversation.
5. We match the customer's emotions. By showing compassion and empathy, we are able to connect with the caller and we begin establishing a sense of mutual trust. “I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this problem. Let’s figure out some ways I can help.”
Once we've understood the caller's need or concern, then we can move onto problem solving.
Perhaps the most important thing we can give someone is our attention.