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Empathic listening skills, is an ability that goes beyond just understanding a message. It is a trainable skill that will help your customers feel validated and acknowledged. By teaching this skills to your sales and customer service teams you are improving communication and building mutual trust and understanding.
Having a team with excellent communication skills both verbally and written is a great advantage. Especially if you want your small business to grow exponentially and make a positive impact. This is especially important in sales, where you have to persuade people into buying something that will benefit them. Your team’s ability to listen and recognize their needs ultimately determines how successful your business will be at that.
Why Is Empathic Listening Important In Sales And Customer Service?
Empathic listening builds trust and connection with your customers, which not only improves their experience but makes you more effective at what you do. Having a great relationship with your customers is key to running a successful business.
By actively listening to your customer’s needs and trying to find a solution to their problems, they will notice you are genuinely trying to help them. They will be more inclined to open up and share their experience with your brand, which improves your business reputation and widens your customer database.
Empathic listening is key to effective communication, so having skilled representatives will help your business deal with difficult customers too. They will know how to reduce tensions and calm customers down in order to create a safe environment and enable a solid line of communication.
How Empathic Listening Improves Your Customer Service
Customer service is the direct link between your business and your customers. By having a great customer service team, your customers will feel they can get any problem that they encounter with your product or service effectively solved. If their experience is bad there is a 95% chance they share that with other people.
To give you an idea, every year American companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. This is a very insightful stat to picture just how crucial it is to teach customer service skills to your agents. No matter how great your products or services are, if you have poor customer service, people will be dissatisfied and, subsequently, you’ll lose customers.
Most people contact customer service if they have some sort of problem with the company’s product or service. Some of them might be raging, disappointed, they might be afraid or experiencing any other negative emotion. This means your representatives need to know how to act in those situations in order to avoid confrontation and find a satisfying solution.
Being able to actively listen becomes critical here. By paying attention to the customer and acknowledging their words, tone, and their emotions, your agents will be able to calm them down, understand their situation, and respond in a way that validates them.
Customers shouldn’t be rushed or asked to simply calm down. Be empathic with their frustrations, tell your agents to follow-up with them about the issue, and genuinely try to help them. That way you will make customers feel understood and taken care of. Empathy is also very important for building rapport, which not only makes your agents job easier but makes your customer’s experience more pleasant.
How Empathic Listening Improves Sales Skills
There is a stereotype of salespeople as being aggressive and more focused on closing the deal rather than helping the customer. These people are so focused on delivering their pitch that they often forget to let the customer express their needs and questions. This actually reduces your chances of closing a sale.
Not only does this result in your prospect getting defensive, but it also prevents your agents from understanding the customer’s needs and matching them with the solutions your business provides. The reality is that by showing more empathy and being more focused on the customer, your sales team results will boost.
You just have to listen empathically. Customers will tell you what they need, what they like or dislike, and what’s important to them. This is the information you need in order to make the sale.
Additionally, by showing empathy to potential customers you are more likely to make customers understand how your solution is a win-win interaction. If a customer is able to understand the benefits, they will feel more satisfied and a satisfied customer is always willing to come back.
How To Implement Empathic Listening And Improve Your Agents’ Skills
1. Pay Attention
Tell your agents to focus all of their attention on the speaker; not just their words, but their tone of voice, body language if possible, the kind of words they use more often, etc. Tell them to react to their emotions, and show customers that they’re fully listening to everything. They can do this by paraphrasing or summarizing key ideas of what the customer said.
2. Show interest in what they’re saying
Instruct your agents to let the customer know that what they’re saying is important for your company. If they’re talking face-to-face, tell them to keep a natural eye-contact and give encouraging nods to let customers know they’re listening. If they’re on the phone, have your agents tell customers that all their feedback is highly valuable and tell them to explain how they were able to understand the situation based on the customer’s words.
3. Ask questions to learn more about their situation
Encourage your teams to ask relevant questions. Let them inquire about the customer’s expectations, what is it that they need, what they like or dislike, their experience in previous occasions, etc. Basically, tell them to gather info through questions in order to fully understand the customer’s situation. Make it all about them. Remember your agents are here to assist customers.
4. Offer a solution to their problem
According to the info you have gathered by telling your agents to ask them questions, you should be able to get a picture of the customer’s situation. This allows your agents to find the solution and help. Make sure your customers understand how things were corrected and what they should expect in the future by having your agents explain this.
Empathic listening skills will be a very useful ability in the customer service and sales departments of any business, regardless of their size or industry. You have now learned that this is not a talent you are born with (although some people might do it more naturally than others). Rather, empathic listening is a trainable skill that you can improve with a few basic steps and make your sales and customer service teams reach their full potential.
Try the tips outlined here and your brand will never be a part of those $62-billion-loss companies that provide poor customer service.
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