Use these 6 steps to guide you to better active listening
Step One: Be Ready to Listen
Make sure that you are prepared to focus on what the customer has to say. Have a pen and paper so you can take notes, to show the customer you are paying close attention to what they are saying and so they know that what they say is important to you. If you are on the telephone, let your customer know that you are taking notes.
Step Two: Acceptance Responses
This is just simply nodding your head, saying something such as “I see” or “mmhm”. The purpose of this is to show the customer you are listening, without interrupting them, whether it is verbally or by using body language, it is an important part of active listening. Make sure to keep eye contact throughout the conversation so that the customer is assured that you are paying attention. Also, if you are unsure of something, make sure you to let the customer know.
Step Three: Repeat
This means you should pick out the key words or phrases and restate them. It is better to restate them by using examples, to show the customer you truly understand what they are saying. This also allows you to show the customer that you comprehend the most important points of what they are saying.
Step Four: Paraphrase
In this step, you simply have to use your own words to restate what the customer has said. This doesn't have to be long, for example you could say something like “So you feel frustrated and overwhelmed…” and then ask “Is this how you feel?” This will help you to understand the message that the customer is trying to get across, and will let the customer know that you completely comprehend what they said.
Step Five: Clarifying Questions
Asking questions gives you the chance to avoid conflict and misunderstandings. These will reduce any uncertainty that you have about what the customer has said, and gives the customer the chance to correct you on anything that you have misunderstood. This proves yu understand what the customer said, and you encourage the customer to keep talking and tell you more about their needs.
Step Six: Summarize
This is very similar to step three. Simply restate the key components of the conversation. This allows the customer to hear how you have interpreted what they have said, and gives you and the customer one last chance to make sure you are both in total agreement of what has been talked about.
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