Contact Center Agents Should Practice These Active Listening Skills

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As an agent working in a busy contact center, it’s important to remember to take a step back from the constant chatter and practice your listening skills.

Why you may ask? Surveys show that customers are more satisfied when they feel their thoughts and concerns are actually being heard. According to Acquia, 78% of customers say they’re more inclined to be loyal to a company that “understands them and what they’re looking for.”

With that in mind, try to practice these 5 active listening skills the next time you’re on a call with a customer.

1. Practice Empathy and Understanding

As a contact center agent, cultivating empathy is essential for active listening. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer by acknowledging their feelings and concerns.

When handling customer inquiries or issues, take a moment to comprehend the emotions behind their words. Responding with empathy not only demonstrates genuine care but also helps in building rapport. By understanding the customer’s perspective, you can tailor your responses to address their specific needs and create a more meaningful interaction.

2. Eliminate Distractions and Focus

Active listening requires full concentration, so it’s crucial to eliminate distractions. Minimize background noise, turn off unnecessary notifications, and close any unrelated tabs or applications. Try your best to remove any distraction that might exist in a busy contact center, even if it means changing desks or getting new headphones.

This not only ensures that you hear the customer clearly but also signals to them that their concerns are your top priority. Maintaining focus allows you to grasp the details of the conversation, ask relevant follow-up questions, and provide accurate solutions, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

3. Provide Verbal Affirmations

Verbal affirmations are powerful tools for indicating engagement and understanding. Incorporate phrases like “I understand,” “I see what you mean,” or “I appreciate your perspective” into your responses. These affirmations reassure the customer that their message is being received and valued.

By verbalizing your understanding, you not only validate their concerns but also encourage open communication. This approach contributes to a positive customer-agent relationship and fosters trust.

4. Ask Clarifying Questions

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s issue, ask clarifying questions. This not only demonstrates your commitment to resolving their concerns but also helps in avoiding assumptions.

Open-ended questions, such as “Can you provide more details about the issue?” or “What specific challenges are you facing?” encourage customers to express themselves more thoroughly.

By seeking clarification, you show genuine interest and commitment to resolving their concerns, leading to more effective problem-solving.

5. Summarize and Paraphrase

Regularly summarizing and paraphrasing the customer’s statements is an effective way to confirm your understanding and keep the conversation on track. Repeat key points back to the customer to ensure accuracy and demonstrate your active engagement.

For example, you can say, “If I understand correctly, you’re experiencing [issue]. Is that right?”

This technique not only helps in avoiding misunderstandings but also reassures the customer that their concerns are being actively processed and addressed. Summarizing also provides an opportunity for any necessary corrections or clarifications, fostering a clearer and more productive conversation.

Remember to practice these 5 active listening skills and you’ll be on your way to greater customer success in no time.

Kent Mao
I'm a project manager at ComputerTalk, a contact center provider based in Toronto. I'm passionate about customer experience and technology, and how they intersect in today's digital age.

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