Daniel C. Felsted
In Elaine Harris’ great book, Customer Service: A Practical Approach, I found the following eight-step guide to becoming a good listener. A good listener embodies the principles of customer service. They can change the attitude of a difficult customer, defuse an angry customer, work with impatient customers and successfully help customers with special needs, to name a few.
A good listener knows when to listen, when to ask questions, and when to show empathy. A good listener solves problems and follows up with customers. A good listener will end a conversation in a positive light.
A good listener*:
1. Conveys sincerity.
2. Doesn’t interject his or her own thoughts.
3. Nods head.
4. Doesn’t finish the sentence for the speaker.
5. Paraphrases what was said.
6. Leans toward the speaker.
7. Shares positive comments.
8. Show good eye contact.
Self-improvement is vital to keeping up with technology and changes in your business. However, finding time to keep up with changes is difficult at best. Fortunately, when developing your listening skills, you can practice them without too much difficulty throughout your day.
Place these simple steps on a note card and keep them handy. Review them throughout the day. As you visit with your customers and employees, incorporate them into your conversations. After your conversation, review the note card and evaluate your conversation. Make check marks by the items you did well at and make “X” marks by those that you need to improve on.
Over time your skills will improve and your employees and customers will notice your efforts. Following are five additional ways to help you improve your listening skills.
To improve your listening skills try the following*:
1. Focus on the speaker and what he or she is saying.
2. Look at the speaker and make eye contact when possible. If you are listening on the telephone, make notes as you listen, and smile while you talk.
3. Listen with an open mind.
4. Rephrase what was said to clarify that you understood the intended message.
5. Control your body language. Don’t show impatience or disapproval.
As you interact with your employees and your customers, your self-improvement will inspire those around you. Your attitude will be the catalyst to helping those around you improve as well. This simple act will have the power to affect many. Whoever said one person can’t make a difference? I believe you can, and I believe others will also notice the difference you make.
Note: For a free evaluation checklist download here.
*Source: Customer Service: A Practical Approach, Elaine K. Harris, p.74-5