The Lost Art of Listening

posted: Friday, August 10, 2012

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Recently we talked about how customer service cannot suffer just because you get busy; in fact it has to be even better. One of the first things to vanish is the art of listening. I haven’t figured out why it is exactly, but I know it happens. It’s happened to me but that’s not what concerns me. I’ve been in the field long enough that I am not afraid to speak up and say “Listen to me or I will go somewhere else.” What concerns me are those customers who are shy, talk a little slower, have a speech impediment or anything else that might make it difficult to communicate.

I’ve mentioned my nephew, Joe, a few times in the past and many of you may remember that he has Cerebral Palsy. He does have a slight speech impediment and talks a little slower at times, but he’s smart as a whip. Joe has told me on more than a few occasions, he has been interrupted by salespeople who are either in a hurry or assume that he can’t possibly know what he wants just because of his speech. They either do not listen, or they look to the person Joe is with, to clarify, but trust me if you ask Joe what he wants, he will tell you.

The example with Joe is only a small part of the problem, salespeople are not listening nearly enough these days. They get so busy and want to move so fast from customer to customer that they are not listening to what each customer really wants. Of course that’s a generalization and many salespeople are doing great, but the lack of active listening is an issue.

If you are truly going to satisfy each and every customer, then you have to hear what they are telling you. Two people may both be interested in earrings but not the same pair; therefore it is up to the salesperson to listen to their wants and needs, and help them determine which is right for them.

Some customers, like my nephew Joe, may speak a little differently, but every salesperson must take the time to listen or there will be no customers for them to listen to.

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