Recently I had a problem with a product that had been shipped to me that I had not ordered. Trying to find a phone number for the company was next to impossible! While their website had 7 pages of information and background, not a one contained their phone number. Obviously, they don’t want to talk to anyone, much less their customers. There was an email address listed, but the thought of trying to explain the whole situation in a written format didn’t seem viable.

Why do companies make it so difficult to listen to what their customers are saying? Do they not know that it is through listening that they will become better than their competition? Businesses should be begging their customers to come talk to them and tell them if they are having problems. Out of 100 customers, only four will share their complaint. The other ninety-six will walk away and maybe tell thousands through the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Smart companies know that if they keep their ears open, listen and act quickly to customer complaints, up to 96% of customers will do business with them again and will probably refer others.
Listening is a skill. It is also the highest form of recognition you can give another person. It is a key ingredient to delivering superior customer service. There are three steps to active listening:

  Active Listening

1. Focus. Focus on the person by stopping everything you are doing and give them full attention. If physically  present, mirror your body to their body and give eye contact. If on the phone, don’t try to multi-task such as reading your email, blackberry, paperwork, etc. Don’t interrupt.
2. Acknowledge. Nodding your head, smiling or using other appropriate facial gestures, saying “ok”
“ un-huh”, “hmmmm” are all gestures that show acknowledgement. Take notes if needed.
3. Paraphrase. Rephrase back in your own words what you heard the person say. This gives them the opportunity to either verify that the message you received is what they intended or to clarify if it was not.

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