Working in a call center involves a lot of . “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” you’re probably saying now.
While call center agents need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively, it is ultimately their active listening skills that will make a customer happy at the end of the call.
Active listening isn’t as easy as it sounds, however. If it is, everybody would be doing it.
It’s easy to tell an agent to pay attention to what the customer is saying. But it’s quite another thing to tell an agent to pay attention to what the customer is saying.
If you want to make meaningful connections with your clients, you need to ensure that every call center agent is doing the latter.
Here are effective tips to improve your customer service agents’ active listening skills.
1. Set up an environment where agents can easily maintain focus
Providing agents with a distraction-free work environment not only helps them maintain their focus on every call, but it also improves productivity on many levels.
A good first step is to invest in good quality headphones that produce great audio and effectively filters out background noise.
Is the ventilation system noisy? Do office chairs squeak easily? Are door hinges making quite a racket every time someone enters or leaves through the door?
Minor adjustments can alleviate all these.
It also doesn’t hurt to remind employees to speak in lowered voices when they’re on the floor.
By addressing issues concerning workplace acoustics, you can make it easier for agents to give customers their undivided attention.
2. Train agents to detect emotions
As is the case in every conversation, words alone don’t tell the whole story.The emotion behind them offer more context, which could go over the heads of those aren’t paying close attention.
Since call center agents don’t have the luxury of seeing the facial expressions of their customers, they can be trained to recognize emotions through speech patterns.
When customer service representatives can detect even the subtlest of emotions from their customers, chances are they will always respond appropriately and accordingly.
3. Train agents to stop anticipating the customer’s response
Some customer service reps fall into the habit of anticipating what customers are going to say especially if the issue sounds like something they’ve heard before.
When agents get it wrong (and it happens more often than not), callers tend to lose their train of thought. As a result, time is wasted. And call an agent lucky if the caller doesn’t feel offended about being preempted about what he was about to say.
4. Remind agents to always ask for clarifications when needed
Agents should not hesitate to ask for clarification if the customer has said something unclear or a tiny bit of info that needs further explanation.
When important information is missed, chances are it will take a long time for the caller’s issue to be resolved. Asking whenever necessary eliminates that obstacle.
5. Have representatives take notes
Customer service representatives will do well to take notes of all important details when the customer is speaking.
Why? Because it helps to have key points to refer to when agents are taking stock of the customer’s issue.
Note-taking also gives agents helpful reference points to go back to as they navigate their way towards a resolution.
By following the tips mentioned above, your call center agents will undoubtedly make significant strides in improving their listening skills when taking calls.
Practice makes perfect, so it shouldn’t hurt to always remind your employees why active listening is an essential skill in the workplace.