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Guide to Effective Listening

Guide to Effective Listening

On the phone or in person, listening is the single most important service skill. This training guide provides simple and powerful ways to develop good listening skills and to give every customer the most appropriate and professional service.

Read the sample below to see how much useful information is packed into a brief section of this guide.

Introduction: Listening
is a skill

There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. With the exception of those with hearing impairments, all of us can hear — it’s just sound waves pounding on the eardrum. But to really listen we must actively take in what we hear, interpret it, and be able to act on it. That type of listening is the foundation of good customer service.

Whether you are working with a customer, client, or patient, on the phone or in person, listening is the single most important service skill.

The person who reaches out to you has an objective — a problem that needs to be solved, a question that needs to be answered. They may even have a secondary objective or an unspoken objective. It’s up to you to be able to interpret, question, respond and take action.

But if you aren’t really listening none of that will happen.

Barriers to good listening

In the typical work environment there are many barriers to excellent listening, everything from noisy coworkers, to distracting equipment, to the stack of papers on your desk, even a rumbling stomach. Sometimes those distractions are even of our own making. For example, when you are so eager and anxious to help that you hear a customer’s first few words, and then jump into problem-solving mode without really listening.

Or when you stop listening, and start formulating how you are going to respond, or what you are going to say, before the customer has finished speaking.

Or when you just can’t let go of the emotions behind a difficult call, to fully focus on the current customer.

In the following pages, we’ll tackle these and other common barriers to listening and offer solutions so that you can give every customer your full attention in the most positive, professional and productive way. But first, take the brief self-quiz on page three to learn where you may need to focus extra attention in the future.


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