You’re not listening to me. No one listens anymore. Why isn’t anyone listening? You’ve probably heard these statements from upset teenagers, angry spouses or frustrated customers. Many people think the art of listening is lost in this high tech world of 140 characters and emoticons. However, in the case of your hotline staff, these statements may be true, and your agents may not be truly listening to your customers. And the reasoning behind their poor listening skills may actually be caused by your company, due to your current policies, training programs and data analytics.
Why Don’t Agents Listen?
One would think that listening would be one of the primary skills inherent in every customer service agent. But there are legitimate reasons why hotline staff may not be focused on what the customer on the other end of the line is saying:
- They are focused on what they want to say next
- They are worried about meeting the call metrics the company has set
- They are acting as agents of your company and not customer advocates
- They take what is being said by the customer personally
Customer service is a demanding position and representatives need assistance from management to help their listening skills, improve their responses, and increase customer satisfaction. There are many ways managers can help agents develop effective listening practices.
Managers Can Improve Listening
The first step to improve the listening skills of your hotline agents is to define listening within your organization. One definition of listening is an engaging and interactive conversation.
This isn’t always easy to accomplish, especially when an irate customer is confrontational, belligerent or berates the agent on the other end of the line. Here are some simple but important tips to help agents achieve a more effective conversation with customers:
- Let the customer have their say
- Determine what the customer’s issue is beyond the anger conveyed
- Set aside the company’s agenda
- Make meeting metrics a task for managers
Helping agents achieve improved listening skills will result in an improved focus on customer satisfaction. Agents can become customer advocates and improve your company’s resolution rates. When this happens the only metric that truly matters, customer satisfaction, will exceed expectations.
If your organization is seeking to listen better, to respond faster and more efficiently to customer service issues, click here to learn more.