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The Lost Art of Listening

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

There are many ways to listen. People listen with their eyes, and with their hands (remember the movie: A Quiet Place). Listening is a central process in the way people survive. If you are not actively listening, critical information is missed. In many cases, the actual words selected do very little to communicate the speaker's intended message. We must reach below the surface to capture the truth. So much to consider when listening to what someone is saying.

Imagine you are in a restaurant (I’m in one at the time of writing this blog post.) There is a lot chatter going on. Have you ever tried to hear what everyone is saying in the restaurant? Does it all sound like the Charlie Brown moment when he is on the phone speaking to the teacher “Waw, waw wa Waw”?

Continuing with the restaurant example imagine placing your order. “Let me have the #2 with no onions and pickles with the sauce on the side please.” Your order arrives. The #2 is actually a #3 there are onions, pickles, tomatoes and no sauce. How frustrating! Could it be the server was also distracted by all the chatter in the restaurant? Does he or she even really care? Listening attentively to your customer is fundamental not only to accuracy, but also to demonstrating that the customer is valued.

"Listening paths", or channels in which feedback is received, can take many different forms:

  • Phone

  • Face to face

  • Email

  • Written letters

  • Social media

  • Non verbal

  • Surveys

  • Meetings

  • Town Halls

It's critical to develop multiple listening paths to fit a variety of situations. If the customer calls on the phone, don't email a response back. Honoring how the customer initiates the contact by taking the correct listening path ensures the customer service experience is fulfilled.

Were you faced with the words, ”are you listening to me?” or "did you hear what I said to you?” while growing up? These questions were usually a result of the child not completing a task that a parent assigned in a timely manner. Often, the child is not in a state of mind to listen (such as playing a video game.) I still experience this behavior from my 22 year old. I have come to understand that timing is everything. Timing is especially important when choosing the correct listening path with your customers. Another important "listening skill" is using figures of speech. Take a look at the video and what it means to use figures of speech (click on the link below.)

Using a figure of speech as part of the customer service experience can have its pitfalls when the customer doesn't understand what you are trying to convey. It can create serious friction if the customer takes what you said literally. However, using figures of speech in the customer service experience could also enhance the relationship. These words can add more of a personal touch to the experience, which shows the customer that you understand them with the added touch of a human element.

In conclusion, try this exercise with a group of 4 or 5 (more if you desire) at your next customer service meeting or icebreaker. Whisper to the first person in the group a series of instructions.

“I would like for you to pick of the following from the store”

  1. A box of macaroni 16oz large box noodles wheat.

  2. 2 pink lady apples no dents or scars or brown spots.

  3. A pair of black socks with orange and skyblue stripes.

  4. Ruby red grapefruit drink sugar free no pulp.

Whisper the exact list, word for word to the next person in the group all the way to the end. Have the last person in the group recite the list aloud. How much of the information did you hear? Were you able to get all the words on the list correct?

Remember that listening attentively and hearing what your customers are really saying will help in delivering a successful experience!

DAVID BEAUMONT is known for delivering outstanding customer support to clients. A knowledge seeker, go to individual, results driven visionary that builds relationships with the clients and peers. Aim to meet the client’s needs by providing solutions to their business objectives. Managing the displeased client to win them back. Seeking to know the customer's needs in order to provide the customer experience they deserve.

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