Can You Actually Listen?

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Anyone in the CSR industry that is worth their weight in salt will know and understand the importance of properly, truly listening to a customer. Do you have this difficult-to-master trait, and if not, are you going to be satisfied as a CSR?

Like most any of us, customers are happiest in relationships when they feel they are really heard. When we speak to others, we can often tell if they are just acting like they are listening or if they are truly engaged with us. Most customers can tell just as easily. 

Jeannie Walters at 360 Connext covered quite a few points on this topic in her article REALLY Listening to Customers Requires Skill, and I would like to take a look at a few of them and discuss them a little further.

  1. The truth can hurt. Your star employee might have a hard time dealing with the potentially personal attacks that a customer might use. I have written about pride and keeping it out of the equation when it comes to dealing with customers. The customer has to be given the room to vent, and the CSR has to absorb it without taking it personally or striking back. Swallow the pride, stay distant from the attacks, and respond in caring kindness to the situation.
  2. Your processes seem immobile. Sometimes company policy becomes an insurmountable hurdle for the CSR. While the customer may be asking for something that a CSR simply has no ability to give, the CSR must find a way to hear and respond in a positive manner with what can be done. Avoid the use of terms like “can’t,” “won’t,” against policy,” and the like. Instead, turn things around and phrase things by offering what can be done and in so doing, try to go above and beyond and offer them a recompense that is better than what they were actually asking. Working on keeping the language more positive while still offering the customer a great solution will often make them happy in the end and trust in your company.
  3. Asking the right questions is half the battle – but which ones are right? Are your communication skills sharp? Are your logic skills sharp? Are you able to listen carefully to the situation, and then formulate a direction to further the discussion? Are you able to ask the right questions that will get past the symptoms of the issue and actually be able to reach the root of the problem? This type of conversational ability requires skills and is not accomplished through simply tossing up company policy or scripted responses as road blocks to reaching the solution.
  4. Too many communications through social media. Social media outlets have become the how-to way for people to reach out to a company these days. Are you comfortable working in that area of service if the company assigns it to you? If a company has just way too many communications coming in and the team can’t handle them all, then a few things need to be examined it seems. First off, is the team not big enough? If you have garnered that much business to be receiving so much inbound communication, then it would seem the company is big enough to warrant a larger team. If there is just no way to increase the team, then the team members need to have the resources at their disposal to respond to most any issues in a quick time frame. Having to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get things approved will slow down the workload greatly, and that will lead to many dissatisfied customers.

In the end, it comes down to having all of the necessary people skills in order to carry on a precise, logical conversation with customers. You should be able to discover the root of the issue and then find a solution quickly for their satisfaction. As Walters says in a separate article, when it comes to being a customer:

We buy from people we like, and entrepreneurs are fantastic at delivering an experience based on who they are and what they believe. The products or services might not be much different than others out there, but the person is. And then comes growth. Strategies for customer-centric organizations can help propel any old business ahead of their competition.

All of that to say, people tend to shop at places where they like the people and the service those people provide. Desiring to become a CSR is to desire a position as the one who stands as the company face, and the way you handle the customers will either give a positive or negative experience to the customer. If you feel you possess these skills then seeking a job in the customer service industry may be a great place for you to establish yourself in a long-term career.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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