Active listening can dramatically improve the call experience of your team, agents, and customers – but how can you train your agents to be more active, better listeners, and more accurate?
Easy! With these 10 tips from Personalized Communication.
We want you, your callers, team, agency, everyone – even the higher-ups – to understand the great benefits of active listening. Whether it’s in person or on the phone, professionally or in your personal life, active listening has a place whenever communication is involved.
Let’s learn more – together!
1. Stay in the Moment
Not thinking about what you’ll say next, or what you’ll have for dinner, or even whom you’re going to call next is the first step towards true, active listening.
You need to be in the moment and focus on what your caller is saying as they are saying it and when they are saying it.
2. Put Yourself in the Caller’s Shoes
If your caller is upset or frustrated, try to understand that, try to be empathetic, and try to put yourself in their shoes.
Maybe this is an outbound call rather than an inbound one – what do you think the speaker on the other end of the phone is feeling? How would you feel if you received a cold call?
You can mention how they might be feeling, how you would be feeling by saying something along the lines of
‘I know your time is valuable, so I will be brief’.
3. Don’t Jump Ahead, But Listen Now
It’s not only important to listen in the moment, but to let the conversation progress in the moment instead of seeing where it is heading and herding or hurrying it along. Giving your time to the caller will make them feel that you value their words and what they have to say – therefore making them feel heard, which is one of the goals of active listening.
Make them feel heard by letting them set the pace.
4. Ask Questions
Asking questions is a wonderful way to show others you are listening and truly in the moment with them. You can ask questions that branch off of something they said, or even ask questions that take the conversation a new direction or give you additional information about a new subject.
Remember to not go overboard with your questions, as that can frustrate your caller – a couple, well-timed questions are all it takes.
5. Clarify with Your Callers
Active listening is all about understanding better by listening better, but this doesn’t mean you will always understand what a client wants right away or that you can never ask for additional information or clarification.
Sometimes there is a gap between their communication skills and your understanding skills – and that’s okay, the only thing that isn’t okay is ‘just guessing’ what they need and sending them on their way without clarifying it with them first.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or for them to clarify something they said.
6. Paraphrase & Repeat
Reflecting or paraphrasing what your callers say is a great way to show them you are listening and make them feel heard, understood, and valued.
If your caller has a complicated or multi-step question, paraphrase and repeat it back to them to be sure you understand it and its intricacies before you dive into a time-consuming troubleshoot. Mirroring emotions is a great way to improve the caller experience too.
Misunderstanding a question or mis-answering costs both the caller and your agency time, which isn’t enjoyable for either side.
7. Don’t Interrupt Your Callers
This one should be a given, but it still warrants a spot – do not interrupt your callers (even if they interrupt you).
Everyone hates being interrupted, and even if the caller jumps the gun on conversation turns, it doesn’t mean you should. After all, you are the call agent and they are the client, which means the precedent for police behavior falls to you, not them.
Interrupting is the opposite of active listening – because it isn’t listening at all.
8. Include Quality Surveys After Calls
A great way to improve your active listening is to test and survey your current active listening so you can learn how to improve, where to improve, as well as where you are doing well.
Quality surveys aren’t something to be afraid of, and they aren’t meant to ‘catch’ your lowest performing agents – they are simply a quantitative way to see how you are doing as a company, and how your customers view you and the work you are doing.
Surveys are nothing to fear, in fact, they are here to help.
9. Monitor Your Calls & Discuss with Your Agents
It’s important to discuss both the good and the bad with your agents, so they can model their calls to be more like the former and less like the latter.
10. Training, Training, Training
The biggest way to improve at anything is to practice, and active listening is no different. Training can be as big as an agency wide class, or as small as a short team meeting (or having them read this article).
The starting point shouldn’t be how big the training is, but rather, that there is training to begin with.
Practice makes perfect.
Do You Need Help with Your Agents & Their Active Listening? Contact Personalized Communication Today!
Our agents are highly trained and always available! We would love to help you show your callers that they are valued, heard, and understood.