Your customers are talking, shut up and listen.

Yesterday I had to call a company that I do business with, and by the time the short three or four minute call was over, I was somewhat irritated.  The reason for my irritation was that the CSR on the other end of the line never shut up, to put it bluntly.  I had to fight to get a word in edge wise and if that wasn’t bad enough, when I did get an opportunity to speak, it didn’t appear that she was really listening.  I had to keep explaining the same things to her over and over and at one point I even asked her if she was not understanding me, or hearing me because I felt like I was talking to myself.  My opinion of this company was much less by the time that short phone call was over than when it began and it goes to show that three or four minutes on the phone with the wrong customer service rep can completely change one’s view of an organization.

I think as a business it is crucially important that CSR’s are trained to listen, listen, listen.  How can you help someone without understanding what their issue is, what their problems may be, if you are continuously talking?  You cannot assume that every call falls into a predefined category, you cannot predetermine what someone’s problem is if you do not take the time to listen to them.  My grandfather used to say that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and that reason is we should listen twice as much as we talk.  I find this to be completely accurate when it comes to customer service, it is impossible to help someone without really understanding what they want and need, and they will appreciate the fact that you listened to them and then tried to find a solution to their particular problem.  This all comes down to training CSR’s and pounding into their heads the need to listen,  I always told my agents that the order of every call in both sales and customer services is listening, then action.  No other way will work, and if you are not listening to your customers, you can bet that one of your competitors is more than willing to.

Every organization should have a training program that includes how to deal with customers and how to listen to what they are saying, this should not be one-time training; this should be ongoing training.  If you are hiring an outside company to handle your customer service on your behalf, it is important that you are satisfied that they are handling customer service issues the way you would and that they are taking the time to listen to what the customer has to say.  Customers are the life blood of every company and there is no advantage whatsoever of not listening to what they have to say.