When it comes to good listening techniques, the first thing you can do is help everyone to understand the point of listening. We listen to get information, to understand that information, to learn new information and to enjoy our interaction with the person. Listening doesn’t have to be hard if you know what to do.
* Listen between the Lines – Oftentimes people who reach out to customer support are already angry. They may fire off a mad email with any number of curse words or accusations. Try to overlook that; mentally delete the language and read what they are trying to say.
* Focus on the Message – When you realize what they’re trying to say, you can do a lot better job trying to fix the problem. Some people may simply need a refund and nothing you do can help them. But, it’s worth it to try, and often using active listening techniques can help.
* Try to Put Yourself in Their Shoes – Try to imagine yourself in their shoes, experiencing what they are experiencing. Even if you’re loyal to your product, they are loyal to their wallet. And they deserve to get what they thought they were getting, so it’s up to you to figure out if you can meet their expectations.
* Repeat Back to Them What You Think They Said – Once you think you know what they are saying, try to repeat it back in your own words. For example, if you think they want a refund because they can’t access the product, ask them if they would like to get directions on accessing the product (plus a bonus) instead.
* Ask Open-Ended Questions – Don’t ask only Yes/No questions. Often those types of questions make the customer feel as if you’re not listening. Ask them open-ended questions so that you can build a relationship with them. If they talk about anything personal, take the time to commiserate with them.
* Show That You Care – When you acknowledge a difficult situation, they’re going to soften immediately. Go out of your way to show that you care and that is the message they’re going to take back to others, even if they do ultimately still need a refund.
* Be Empathetic – Showing empathy to people doesn’t mean you have to agree. You simply need to tell them you’re so sorry and that you either have or have not been in their shoes before but that you understand that they feel XYZ feelings. Saying things like, “that’s understandable” will go a long way.
* Put Up a Mirror – This works really well for when you’re dealing with someone on a telephone. If you put a mirror up and look at yourself while you talk as if that is the person you’re talking to, your energy will show up in your voice and in your words too. This can help you get the smile across in your language.
Active listening is an important skill for anyone, but especially for customer support staff. Ensure that your staff, whether they’re outsourced or not, understand how you want your customers to be treated. Provide examples in a FAQ, make example videos of a successful call, and ensure that they truly understand your business and your mission.