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Improve Your Telephone Listening Skills in 5 Minutes

It can happen to even the best customer service associate – day dreaming. A wandering mind. An innocent interruption. With so many possible distractions at work, it can sometimes be difficult to focus on, and really listen to, customer on the telephone.

Here are some quick tips to help you focus all of your energy and attention on your customer so that you can help them with their question, and delight them in the process:

  • Clear your desk. Keep your cell phone on silent in your desk drawer. Remove other documentation and work that could capture your attention. If necessary or possible, turn off your computer screen.

  • Have a pen and paper ready. Take notes if it helps you concentrate on the call.

  • Ask Questions. If you don’t understand the question or issue, ask questions about it. Asking questions and engaging actively in the conversation will help you focus. Also, this helps with the next point…

  • Don’t make assumptions. To truly listen to a customer over the telephone (or any time, really) be sure to not make any assumptions about the situation or caller. Seek to understand all of the details.

  • Don’t interrupt. This is another time the pen and paper may come in handy. Never interrupt your caller. If you’re worried that you’ll forget to ask an important question when the callers comment is done, jot it down as you listen.

  • Repeat key points. Show your customer that you have listened and understand the reason for their call.

  • Do not engage with others while on the call. Don’t make lunch plans or conversation with your chatty desk neighbour while you’re on the phone with a caller. They truly can wait.

  • Invest in a good headset. Consider noise cancelling headphones if the office chatter or other any other noises distract you.

  • Practice empathy. How would you feel if you were the caller? Putting yourself in your callers shoes will help you focus.

Apply these ideas and not only will you notice your listening skills improving, your customers will also feel heard.