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Customer Corner

What Did You Say ?

We've talked before about having a caring attitude toward our customers and fellow employees.

Being a good listener is an important characteristic of caring. Most of us can hear, but unfortunately most us have poor listening skills.

This is due mainly to our early education, when we were taught reading and writing skills, but not listening skills. Many of our early listening habits were developed with a negative viewpoint. This influences our listening habits as adults. When you were a child, can you remember adults saying:

"You never listen to me!"

"You haven't heard one word I've said!"

"Why can't you do as you're told?"

"Just sit in that chair and be quiet!"

"Don't argue with your elders!"

Listening is a skill that requires discipline and concentration. Its the way we learn. A person who is a good listener practices several good habits. A good listener:

Hears what customers, supervisors, and fellow employees are saying and, even if they are angry or upset, remains neutral, empathetic and calm.

Shows by attitude and responses that he is listening and encourages the speaker to continue.

Responds to the speaker's ideas, comments or questions in such a way that both parties agree as to the next course or action.

Successful sales people are good listeners. They understand that listening to someone makes that person feel important.

They also recognize that their beliefs, values, attitudes, expectations, prejudices, and feelings create potential barriers to effective listening.

Knowing this, they will concentrate on listening to a customer or fellow employee without getting emotionally involved. This takes total concentration, because very often the speaker words say one thing and their body movements and tone of voice say another.

Who is the effective listener in the following situation?

Customer (upset)-"Your bank has bounced my last two checks and is ruining my reputation!"

CSR #1-"When was the last time you balanced your checkbook?" OR

CSR #2-"I can understand your concern for your credit rating as it is important! What information do you have that will allow me to assist you and solve the situation?"

CSR #1's answer is a natural reaction.

CSR#2 has listened to the customer and acknowledges the customer's real concern-embarrassment and loss of reputation.

No! Most people want to get their point of view across and are not considering alternate points of view or choices. Good salespeople recognize how customers and potential customers love to talk.

A successful salesperson related this hint:

"When I meet with a potential customer I let them talk as much as possible. I will ask a few questions about their needs or wants.

"I may or may not sell a money market account, or a certificate that day, but I do get a lot of information about the customer's likes and dislikes.

"I'll develop that information, and at some future time when I see or call the customer, use that information to show them I remember-and care."

Successful people know that listening allows them to be in charge of a situation. It helps them ask questions that provide important information.

Take the time, energy and concentration to listen. You'll get to know people better. And you will have developed a skill that shows that you care.

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 7, 7/90

First published on 07/01/1990

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