The Call Center Training Program
The Training Source, Los Rios Community College District (LRCCD),
& The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA)
Listening Skills | Customer Expectations
What is Listening?
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a passive process. We will naturally hear sounds within human hearing range unless there is some hearing impairment. Listening, however, is an active process. When listening, we direct attention to the act of hearing. Listening involves an intention both to hear and to understand what is heard. Hearing may be natural, but listening is a skill.
The skill of listening can be developed when you know what to do and practice specific behaviors. The skill of listening requires:
A state of mind
An intention to listen
A method of tracking
A process of clarifying or verifying
Research indicates that we spend most of our communication time listening, but that we have the least training in this crucial area of effective communication.
Barriers to Effective Listening
The most powerful action you can take to improve your listening skills is to eliminate or overcome the common barriers to effective listening. Some barriers to effective listening are internal. They occur inside of you. Some barriers are external and occur in the surroundings around you.
What can you do to overcome the internal barriers?
What can you do to reduce or eliminate the external barriers?
Are You Listening?
How do you know when someone is really listening to you? Although there are some common listening behaviors, you will have your own perceptual filters to determine when someone is really listening to you. Take a moment and think of a time when you felt that someone really listened to you. Use this time to answer the following questions:
Benefits of Listening
People who are considered excellent listeners typically use the skill of "active listening."
The Skill of Active Listening
The goal of active listening is to go beyond listening to understanding. People have a strong desire to be understood. Words are simply a vehicle to convey a meaning. Active listening allows you to make sure that you hear the words and that you understand the meaning behind the words.
All too often, we simply assume that we understand what someone means by what he or she says. We make an educated guess about his or her meaning and then act as if that guess is the truth. This is fine when we guess correctly, but can be disastrous when we guess wrong. This results in a lot of miscommunication. Active listening encourages you to feedback what you hear in order to check for accuracy and to keep you on track with the persons meaning. You do this by paraphrasing back to the speaker what you heard him or her say, which gives the speaker a chance to affirm or correct your understanding.
When to Use Active Listening
Active listening is a valuable skill. But, like all skills, it works best in certain situations. A hammer works great for driving in nails but you dont use a hammer to kill a fly or a flyswatter to drive in a nail. What times or situations would be appropriate to use active listening?
How to set it up. Active listening may seem odd unless it is introduced properly. What might you say to make the speaker more receptive to active listening?
When not to use active listening. There are times when it is inappropriate to use active listening. List some times when active listening will put a damper on the conversation.
As a customer service representative, you will run into situations when you will need to gather more information in order to understand another person and provide the desired service. You will need to ask questions in order to do so. Many times, your question will be appropriate given the callers request and the situation. At other times, you may need to explain the reason for the question.
Here are some guidelines:
1. Keep questions simple and to the point
2. Ask politely
3. Provide a rationale for any question that is not obvious
Types of Questions
1. Open-ended questions
2. Closed-ended questions
List three barriers to listening and identify whether the barrier is internal or external.
List four benefits of listening.
What is active listening?
What is an open-ended question? Give an example.
What is a closed-ended question? Give an example.
Get into groups of three for the following exercises. One person is the speaker, one the listener, and one is an observer. Make notes about how the exercise affected you as speaker and as listener. As observer, notice what transpires between the speaker and the listener.
The speaker finishes the first sentence below. The listener sits in an attentive posture. As listener, nod your head and acknowledge the speaker verbally when appropriate. As speaker, limit your response to two to three sentences.
When the speaker is finished, the listener briefly restates what the speaker said using an introductory phrase such as, "What I hear you saying is " or As I understand it, you " Finish by asking, "Is that right?"
Rotate only if the speaker confirms the accuracy of the listeners restatement. If not, have the speaker clarify further and have the listener paraphrase again. Continue until the listener gets confirmation. Rotate so that each person has a chance to be speaker or listener. The second speaker finishes the second sentence and the third speaker finishes the third sentence.
Take time to talk about the exercise after each round. The observer can give feedback to the listener about his or her attentive posture and paraphrasing.
Here are some alternative stem sentences: