Listening to Customers


Successful businesses know the importance of listening to customers. I’ve talked before about my model railroading hobby. (In case you’re interested in such things, I run O Gauge.) I had an electrical question and I couldn’t find an answer online, so I decided to visit an area train store to see if I could get my question answered.

The Importance of Better Listening

When I entered the store, the first person I spoke with was friendly and tried to help me, but after I explained my question, he referred me to another person in the store. I started to explain my question to the second person, but he interrupted me with an answer. The problem was that he hadn’t heard my entire question, so the answer he was giving me was irrelevant. I stopped him so I could give him more details about my question. Again, he interrupted me before I was finished and again gave me another answer that was irrelevant to my question. Again, I stopped him and gave him more details about my question. This time, he said I needed to talk with one of their technicians, because he didn’t know the answer. Argh!

I know this particular technician and really like him. He and I have had several great conversations about trains. He’s knowledgeable and friendly. As I started to explain my question, he also interrupted me before I was finished and jumped in with an answer that was irrelevant to my question. As before, this happened several times before I was finally able to fully explain my question and get a relevant and very helpful answer.

Listen, Don’t Interrupt

I feel a little bad about telling you this story because both of these men are great guys who were sincerely trying to help me. Still, they both committed one of the biggest sins in customer service by not being good listeners. One of the biggest complaints end-users, other customers, and co-workers have with all customer service providers, IT or otherwise, is that we don’t listen, that we finish thoughts or sentences for them, and that we interrupt them before they’re finished explaining their situation.

Sure, I know you’ve heard many of the same problems over and over a thousand times, but it’s the first time your customer has dealt with their problem. In the same way that you would want someone to listen to you carefully without interrupting, you owe it to your customer to listen carefully without interrupting or jumping to conclusions. Better listening is not only good customer service, but it’s also good manners.

Learn How to Be a Better Listener

Build better relationships, both at work and in your personal life. Gain the respect of the people around you by becoming a better listener.

Become wiser by improving your listening skills.

Take my online, on-demand training The Fine Art of Listening Well: How to Be a Better Listener. Check out the course outline and description here.

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