Importance of Empathetic Listening in Customer Service

by | May 22, 2017 | Customer Service | 0 comments

empathetic listening

Photo by Christina Morillo

“The capability to listen at scale will define best in class organizations. It starts with a cultural shift away from a broadcast mindset to listening.  The ultimate objective is for the customer or employee to feel they were heard,”- Robert Pace

Empathetic listening is an active process that entails not only hearing but also comprehending and responding to the emotions, thoughts, and needs expressed by the customer. It goes beyond mere acknowledgment of spoken words, aiming to establish a connection with the underlying emotions. The primary objective of empathetic listening is to ensure that the customer feels genuinely heard, understood, and supported.

However, empathetic listening alone is only part of the solution. Addressing the customer’s specific issue is equally essential. This is where tools like Interactive Decision Trees become invaluable. Once call center agents have understood the customer’s concerns through empathetic listening, they can then navigate a decision tree to systematically address and resolve the customer’s issue.

Merely empathizing with the customer or possessing the knowledge to resolve issues independently is insufficient. It is the combination of both empathetic listening and effective issue resolution that leads to customer delight.

Customers are open to taking suggestions

Customers connect to a customer service executive when they need clarifications on a product, service, or other routine queries. The attitude and the approach of the executive can make or break the end-user experience. The fact is, the customer service executive is a human being interacting with the customer, another human being. Both parties need clear conversation so that the business case is defined and suitable. Also, it initiates necessary remedial actions. Customers are more amenable to taking suggestions if they perceive empathetic listening on the part of the company.

Listening helps businesses achieve their goals

An active and empathetic listening attitude is crucial for a business to excel in its field of operations. Corporate management executives have a duty to perform in the interests of serving the business enterprise. Customers are part of the business and can offer various levels of feedback. Therefore, listening to the customer is one of the important pathways to achieving such goals.

A better understanding of individual customer requirements and needs is crucial to achieving the desired levels of business performance. Every customer has the potential to trigger a re-think of the business enterprise. Hence, every customer feedback should be considered, evaluated, and transmitted to the highest level of the business enterprise.

In addition, a business should make a definite effort to decode the feedback. Such an exercise can help the business obtain a clear picture of business operations. In addition, it can identify the drivers of business growth, locate, and remedy obstacles to such growth. These actions should be an ongoing concern every day of the week. They have the ability to shed new light on business operations in every region.

Listening delivers business value to customers

The modern business enterprise needs to acknowledge internal processes and business models as essential constructs put in place to enhance commerce. These tools generate and deliver business value to clients and customers alike. Customer contact points can enable conversations and interactions that can yield significant information about the efficacy of business operations.

Every business should make it a point to link such feedback to its internal processes. These processes can be refined and re-engineered to offer better value. Consider this, a modern automobile manufacturer sources thousands of components and automotive parts from dozens of suppliers and vendors. This is a massive business operation with hundreds of moving parts – all need to operate together for the business to deliver quality automobiles to the market.

The core business enterprise needs to be in constant contact with the said suppliers and vendors. Empathetic listening to these entities is vital for the business so that the entire operation can proceed on an even keel. In case raw material prices witness volatility, the business enterprise should react swiftly and adjust certain parameters to enable smooth sailing. Therefore, we could say that an ear to the ground is essential in the interest of delivering consistent business value.

It boosts business outcomes

Empathetic listening to customers is also important as it helps enterprises to boost business outcomes. Paying keen attention to the voice of the customer enables businesses to create personalized products and customer service experiences. We may consider the case of regular customers frequenting a high-end luxury hospitality establishment, such as a five-star hotel.

During the course of regular interactions, business managers can form a clear picture of the individual preferences of select clients. This information can be obtained from conversations and the clients’ choice of products and services. The establishment can choose to boost the availability of specific products and services.

This is in addition to adding variety to its commercial fare. This active dialogue hinges on paying an attentive ear to the customer and valuing his or her input. The outcomes can manifest in an enhanced client base, word-of-mouth publicity, priceless client endorsements, and market acclaim. In addition, the business enterprise can use customer feedback to improve its service delivery processes. Thereby gaining an edge over its competitors.

Active listening helps to grow a business mandate

A business enterprise should use active listening skills to enhance and grow its business mandate. The ideas from customers, clients, suppliers, and vendors can fashion new products and services. They can enhance the market image, enable a business to achieve higher sales, and prove itself as sensitive and responsible.

Businesses can create these improvements over time, but the starting point remains to pay attention to customer voices. Stakeholders and the market are likely to appreciate this effort. In addition, customers that contribute ideas can receive special treatment. The business outcomes of such actions can include winning customer loyalty and growing the customer base.

Further, the business can pride itself on the fact that it operates as a 360-degree enterprise that values and acts upon every feedback. Whether positive or negative.

Empathetic learning is central to all business levels

Empathetic listening should be inculcated at all levels of business operations. This attitude should be central to every business interaction. It indicates that the business is serious about its operations and remains open to the idea of change. The business is receptive to evolving market trends.

These signals also convey the business intent of serving the customer from every possible angle. There are various instruments available for businesses interested in feedback. Paper-based questionnaires, feedback mechanisms at points of customer contact, informal conversations initiated by business managers, email, and text messages, among others.

The information gleaned from these interactions can help the business enterprise to arrive at significant decisions. In this context, you must bear in mind that you should share positive feedback through online and offline channels. This kind of action can enable a business to validate itself and perform at higher levels.

The Verdict

In the preceding paragraphs, we examined the various benefits that accrue from empathetic listening to customers. Every business organization should cultivate and promote the ability to listen intelligently and to profit from such actions. Empathetic listening to every customer should be part of the corporate culture. It should be in the interest of achieving progress in terms of corporate, and social responsibility. We can say that the enterprise and its customers working in tandem can achieve any goal.

Improve Customer Service using Decision Trees

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