Stephen Covey was right when he said “most people don’t listen to understand, they listen to respond’. In business that means you could be solving the wrong problem because you didn’t take the time to actually listen to what your customer said. You may have heard the words that were coming out of their mouth but were you actually listening? And no, they are not the same thing. Hearing means that your ears heard sounds; while listening means you are actively processing what is being said.
Don’t make your customers beg to be heard.
I recently found myself on the Customer Service merry-go-round where nothing was getting done. All I kept getting was apologies and promises when what I really wanted was results. Finally, I got a manager on the phone. The first thing they asked me was “What can I do to help you”? I told them that “First, I want to be heard!”. I was tired of people reading scripts but eventually passing the buck. Once the manager took the time to listen, the problem was resolved. But unfortunately, it was after the company’s brand was permanently damaged in my mind. I will never, ever shop with them again. As a business, you’ve spent time and money to get each customer. Can you really afford to loose them because you have become tone deaf?
Listening is the first step of great customer service.
The best thing you can do when dealing with frustrated customers is to practice active listening. While your customer is speaking, make sure you give them your full attention. Then as part of your response say “So what you are saying is”, then restate their concern. Once you are sure you fully understand their problem, then you can offer your solution. This can go a long way to making your customers believe that you care about more than just their money.
P.S. This also works in personal relationships. Active listening has saved me and Rob and lot of needless “misunderstandings”.
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