BPA Featured Article

How Agents Can Become Better Listeners

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC
April 26, 2018

They say God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.  I’m not sure who the “they” are in this scenario (some suggest it’s biblical).  But, whatever the source, it’s a memorable – some might even say T-shirt-worthy – saying.  The idea of listening more and talking less definitely seems like good advice for most folks these days.

It’s definitely good advice for contact center agents who handle incoming calls from customers and prospects.  When callers reach out to businesses, they are doing it for a reason.  They have questions and concerns they want to share, and their concerns may be a source of frustration for them.  Agents who are ready to listen, briefly voice their concerns, and then listen more before offering a solution, are often a welcome thing.

When taking calls, agents should be careful not to assume they know all about callers’ problems or points of view. (You know what happens with we assume, but that’s a subject for a different T-shirt message.)  Instead, call center agents should listen carefully, take notes if needed, and reiterate key points, so they can be sure they understand the situation before moving to address it.

Nobody likes to be interrupted, although call centers tend to like to process callers quickly to meet efficiency goals.  So, agents must be careful to listen, express their interest in finding a solution, and gently move the conversation forward, if needed.

It also helps if agents work to attune themselves to the emotion of their callers.  They definitely don’t want to draw out the conversation needlessly or get into the weeds with details.  However, the caller’s tone of voice and word choice can be helpful queues for agents in deciding their own word choice and actions.

Edited by Erik Linask


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