Your Customer Is Speaking: Are You Listening?

February 7, 2014by Jeane Kropp

Here’s a conversation starter. If you got out of bed this morning, chances are you’ve been a part of a conversation. Whether you’re chatting with a customer over the phone, collecting consumer feedback or reading a wall post on Facebook, a successful conversation starts with thoughtful eyes and ears.

Apply these six secrets of stellar listening to make every communication a more formidable one:

1. Embrace the fact that listening makes the speaker feel worthy. That’s pretty powerful. You may be able to elevate your consumer’s feeling of self-worth in that moment.

2. Tune-in to the emotion beyond the words. “I need your input on this project” could really mean “I’m scared out of my wits that I’ll disappoint my boss.”

3. Empathy first, solution second. People need their emotions validated. If you jump to solutions first, the customer may reject your suggestions. This is particularly important when projects, negotiations or relationships are going south.

4. Shush your “out-thinking.” That’s the thinking that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. Once you become aware of it, you’ll be shocked how often it arises, especially when you disagree with the information being shared.

5. Avoid jumping to conclusions by silently finishing the other person’s thought. “I was wondering if you could…” has as much chance of ending with “share that with me in writing” as it does with “take 30% off this big order.”

6. Curb your bias. Take in all the information without judgment before speaking. You know your products, promotions and company details far better than the average customer. View every listening opportunity with fresh ears.

What listening tips have you picked up on? We’re all ears in the comments.

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