The most important thing any professional can have, according to Jeff Lupient MN, is active listening skills. But very few can really define what this is, and what it means to truly listen. What it doesn’t mean, is that a professional should stand and listen to anything that anyone has to say, positive or negative, regardless of content. It also does not mean that the customer is always right. Active listening does not, in any way, mean that the listener should be abused. Rather, active listening is about making time for the speaker, and actually hearing what they have to say.
Jeff Lupient MN on What Active Listening Truly Is
An active listener is a participant in a conversation. This means that they are an element of the overall process, rather than standing outside of it. Because they are part of it, they will also not be negatively impacted by the process as a whole. This sounds quite complex, and a lot of professionals will say that this all sounds very good on paper, but that it doesn’t work practically.
According to Jeff Lupient MN, however, this is not true. The reality is that customers, when they feel they are being listened to, will rarely explode and become abusive towards others. They look for someone who actively listens to what they have to say, and who truly participates in the discussion. Essentially, what they want is for someone to understand their problem, and to make suggestions in terms of how those problems should be resolved.
Lupient believes that active listening takes just a few steps to complete, and the results are fantastic. Those steps are:
- Making time for the customer.
- Really paying attention to what is said.
- Paraphrasing to confirm you have heard right.
- Offering a suitable solution.
- Asking whether the solution can be accepted.
- Confirming all the relevant details.
If you listen actively and use those six steps, nobody will ever truly shout at you. This is an important lesson to be learned for customer service representatives and their managers. If a customer feels like shouting, screaming, and swearing, it is because they don’t feel like the representatives listened to their concerns. What this also means, therefore, is that the representative did not follow the above six steps. For a manager, this points to the fact that more training is required, and, possibly, that their own behaviors have to change as well.
Customer service agents the world over complain about their job being so hard, because all they do is deal with abusive clients. In reality, however, if they were encouraged and trained to become active listeners, and their managers role modeled what this means, they wouldn’t have this problem. The effects of this reach very far, as customer service agents who don’t get shouted at are happier with their job, and are then more likely to become dedicated to their organization as well.