Good listeners can take feedback well and engage more meaningfully with their colleagues and customers. Also, listening boosts productivity, boosts confidence, and decreases errors. Having the ability to listen well is one of the most valuable skills that an employee can have.
In this blog, let's explore how you can better listen to your customers and why it will benefit your business.
Listening to Someone
In a study published by the Harvard Business Review, two CEO’s analyzed the behavior of nearly 3,500 participants in a development seminar designed to make managers better coaches. Of this cohort, they identified the top 5% (who were deemed the best listeners) and asked others to describe what made them good listeners. The results were insightful:
Good listening involves more than just being quiet while another person talks.
In fact, many people interpret silence throughout talking as not paying attention. Rather, the best listeners are those who periodically ask questions that drive the conversation forward or promote insight. Nodding silently does not tell the speaker that the other party is listening; asking thought provoking questions tells the speaker not only that the other party is listening, but cares about what was said. Good listening, therefore, is active.
Good listening does include interactions that help improve self-esteem.
People who are deemed good listeners make the experience of having a conversation positive. Creating a safe environment, making a person feel supported, and conveying confidence in the other party were all tenets of good listening.
Good listening could also be described as “cooperative conversation.”
In other words, good listeners help make a conversation flow. Even when differences in opinion arise, a good listener will not put the other party on the defensive. By contrast, poor listeners are often perceived as competitive and wanting to win an argument.
Good listeners tend to make suggestions.
Finally, those perceived as good listeners provided feedback in a manner in which the other party was more likely to accept. Authors of the article found this surprising, as it is not uncommon to hear, “But they didn’t even listen, they just jumped in and tried to solve the problem themselves.” This tells us that execution in providing feedback matters.
In other words, don’t assume that being silent is the key to good listening. Listening is all about connections. Connecting with customers & employees means paying attention to their needs and understanding how you can help them. It involves paying close attention to their goals and how you can help them achieve them. It is essential to building trust and can reduce conflict. The reputation of a business depends upon listening skills. Now, let’s see the benefits of a good listening.
Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business. By listening closely to an interviewee, for example, you might learn more about the applicant's attitudes toward the upcoming position, his professional history, and his previous job performance. These insights can help you make a more informed decision about whether you'd like to hire the application.
Listening is essential to building trust. If one member of a team doesn’t listen to instructions, an entire project might fail. To develop trust, pay attention to verbal instructions and deadlines. Listen for statements a coworker might make regarding his own strengths and weaknesses as it relates to a project, so that you can collaborate in a way that maximizes each other’s strengths.
Building & Maintaining reputation
The reputation of a business hinges on the skill of listening. If you do not listen to a customer, for example, she might not receive the product or service she expected, which tarnishes the brand's image. A company develops relationships with other businesses through verbal communication, too. Talking on the phone and working on a task at the same time can result in misunderstandings.
People can be upset when they feel misunderstood or mistreated. For example, if you don't listen to instructions and someone else does the task you were supposed to do, the other person might be unhappy. Be aware of nonverbal cues as well. If an individual’s facial expressions, gestures or behavior contradict her words, ask questions to find out what she really means.
Motivate through listening
Listen to your employees to find out what aspects of the job they find most rewarding and challenging. Don't expect to grasp the true motivation of every employee from a single conversation. Continue to be an attentive listener so that the employee knows you are sincerely interested in what she has to say.
When it comes to customer side specifically, listening to customers have a major benefit in your business growth than you expect. Let’s check some benefits of listening your customers.
Reduce customer churn
Poor customer service is the second most common cause of customer churn. When customers don't feel valued during a service interaction, they quickly turn to your competitors for help. In fact, 86% of your customers will be happy to pay more for another provider if they'll receive a better customer experience.
Improve customer loyalty
Listening to your customers is the best way to keep up with customer demand and satisfy their short- and long-term expectations. When you keep your team on their toes, you will ensure customers remain happy and loyal.
Delightful Customer interactions
Actively listening to someone makes the conversation personal. You become engaged in the dialogue and your role in the experience. When customer service representatives get themselves engaged, they are more likely to go the extra mile for you.
How to listen better
During a conversation between two people, listening skills are beneficial to both partners. The listener gains more information and is more relaxed, and the speaker feels comfortable knowing that they are really being heard, even when their ideas aren't always agreed upon
Listening isn't just about hearing things. Pay attention to the body language of the speaker. Hand gestures and facial expressions often communicate additional information to provide context to the speaker's statements.
With this comes using your own body language to communicate to your customers. If you’re crossing your arms or leaning away from your client, they will subconsciously pick up on the fact that you’re not really listening to them and would prefer to not be talking to them as these gestures are blocking and distancing tactics. Instead, lean forward, nod your head, smile, keep your body open and not crossed, and keep eye contact (but not uncomfortable eye contact). These show you’re truly interested in them and are truly listening to their concerns.
Another good trick is to never interrupt the speaker. It is amazing how often people interrupt each other in day-to-day conversation. Some people never actually wait for anybody to finish their sentence. As soon as an idea comes to mind, they begin speaking. Don’t do that. Wait for a pause of at least one full second before beginning to speak. Practicing this will cause our client to realize you truly do care and are paying attention to them. When you interrupt your clients and customers, they don’t feel valued and feel as if you just want them out of your hair. Taking the time to listen and wait a full second before speaking allows you to truly understand your customer’s issues and questions and to be able to more fully answer and help them.
When it comes to listening in business, being a good listener isn't enough. If you want to make listening a core value, you need to spread the message throughout your company. You can achieve this through seminars or written materials. Improving listening within your organization will help break your employees’ habits of not listening. These habits of listening will then trickle into the other aspects of their lives, including dealing with their clients and customers at work.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with the team at SANCREATIVES and let’s see how we can help.