In business, and especially in customer service, one of the most important skills to have is that of listening. It is an old cliche to say that you have two ears and one mouth, so you ought to do twice as much listening as you do talking. But what does it actually mean to listen? To listen means to pay attention with the intention of understanding the speaker, and in order to make the leap from merely hearing a customer to actively listening, it’s important to follow these 4 components of listening.

1. Focus

It’s not possible to truly listen if your mind is cluttered with other thoughts. Free yourself from any and all distractions in order to tune in entirely to what your customer is telling you. Do not doodle or read material, do not allow yourself to be distracted by a previous case or your plans for after work. Making a conscious effort to devote all of your energies and mental space to the customer at hand is the single most important step you can take towards listening to your customer.
2. Communicate

When you are actively listening to your customer, you can run the risk of appearing to be tuned out. People are so accustomed to being interrupted and spoken over that quiet, attentive listening can feel unsettling. Avoid this risk by positively communicating your listening. Simple phrases like “I see” or “O.K.” or even “mmhmm” will signify that you are staying present in the conversation without disrupting your customer’s train of thought.

3. Clarify

Once your customer has finished expressing his concerns or communicating his problem, ensure that you understand everything that he said. If you have any questions or there is any ambiguity, take the time to ask questions. By asking questions to ensure you understand your customer’s intent, you will have the clarity necessary to properly respond to his needs.

4. Reflect

Now that you have actively listened and worked to ensure you understand your customer, ensure that your assessment of his concerns is correct. Do this by reflecting a summary of his statements back to him and ask him to confirm that you are on target. “I understand. So if I am hearing you correctly, your problem is [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][this] and you would like me to [do this]. Is that correct?” Ascertaining that you are addressing the correct problem in the desired manner is, of course, crucial to obtaining a positive outcome for the case.

While active and careful listening is not an innate skill for most people, it is one that can be taught and improved upon through intent and practice. Focus on using these four steps in both your personal and your professional lives until they become second nature and you will see the quality of your interactions soar and your customers’ satisfaction skyrocket. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]