Call center agents who engage in effective listening behavior will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Effective listening allows the caller to feel acknowledged, promotes cooperation and reduces misunderstandings. They can drastically change how your call center agents interact with your customers and how your customers view your company.
It is therefore critical that effective listening behaviors are encouraged, monitored and enhanced in call center agents.
Listening is a skill that can be developed with proper training and practice. Below are 15 suggestions on how you can improve listening behaviors in call center agents.
1. Communicate the importance of effective listening
- Allows a caller to feel acknowledged, accepted and understood.
- Encourages the caller to be more open and forthcoming with information.
- Promotes cooperation between the agent and caller.
- Helps to build stronger relationships.
- Leads to learning about the customers opinions, desires and needs.
- Reduces confusion and misunderstandings.
2. Undergo periodic training to reinforce effective listening behaviors.
- Include call recordings that demonstrate the effectiveness of listening behaviors.
- Allow agents to point out why the listening behaviors were effective.
- Identify barriers to good listening behaviors and how they can overcome them.
- Use call center training programs that will enhance listening behaviors.
- Identify employees that exemplify good listening behaviors and make them model employees.
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3. Develop a coach and manager training program to ensure that they are most effective at monitoring for and teaching effective listening behaviors.
4. Monitor calls for agent listening behaviors.
5. Provide agents with immediate, consistent and constructive feedback.
6. Routinely communicate performance expectations and results.
7. Include call quality performance and quality of listening behaviors in the annual review process.
8. Incorporate Call Quality Results into Employee Compensation and Incentive Plans.
9. Acknowledge good listening behavior and reward it (match the reward to the person and the achievement).
10. Create a positive work environment; happy agents will be more effective.
11. Examine process workflow, technology, work rules and policies to identify any roadblocks to effective listening behaviors.
12. Invest in call center software that provides performance dashboards and immediate feedback from the customer.
13. Equip your agents with call center software that provides real-time comprehensive information about the caller so they are more informed and can more effectively engage the caller.
14. Reduce the level of distraction of your agents. Use call center software that has all of your business tools integrated and has an easy to use interface. When your agents spend less time hassling with confusing software, they will be more effective at listening to your customers.
15. Include questions about agent listening behaviors in post call surveys. For example:
- The customer support agent was attentive to my needs (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent was really listening to me (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent asked for more details and extra information during the conversation (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent continually attempted to understand what I was saying (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent adequately summarized what had been said (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent recognized what information I needed (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
- The customer support agent offered relevant information to the questions I asked (strongly agree, agree, etc.).
Agents who engage in effective listening behavior will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. These effective agents will promote positive brand awareness for your company and increase lifetime value.
By ensuring that your agents are well equipped, trained and monitored you will be gaining the largest return on your costly investment of staffing call center agents.