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Listening And The Short Attention Span

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Improved listening skills enable service professionals to establish trust and better customer rapport. Enhanced rapport can yield many mutual benefits. As the term implies, mutual benefits means that both the customer and the service company win. Customers win because their message is heard, qualified, and understood; and the service company wins because improved listening results in getting things done right the first time, without redoing any work or call backs to the customer’s home or business.

The most dominant barrier to good listening is a lack of mental energy, which results in mind drift. This is what happens when a person drift s off to “La La Land” during a conversation. The average attention span has diminished due to the rate of interruption that service professionals must endure. While interruptions come in many forms, in the digital age we live in, the most pervasive interruptions are mobile devices. Out in the field, incoming phone calls, text messages, and e-mails can be ongoing.

Each interruption requires mental energy and focused attention about whether to reply immediately or defer a response until later. For field technicians, there is constant contact from a dispatcher regarding scheduling changes and updates.

For field sales professionals, turning off the ringer on a mobile device is not always the best solution to the interruption dilemma. Some sales professionals actually make matters worse by placing their portable communications device on vibrate mode before a customer meeting. While vibrate mode is mostly inaudible, it still becomes a listening distraction. Have you ever noticed the lack of concentration as someone ponders their uncertainty about whether they should glance at their portable communication device as it vibrates on their hip? This is a silly predicament for a sales professional to be in. Sometimes it’s best to completely turn off a mobile device, so that a sales professional’s listening skills can be focused and attentive.

If you experience mind-drift while listening to a customer, it’s best to assess whether you missed anything important and then act courageously. Say the following, “I want to make sure I heard that last part correctly; may I please hear that again?” Asking questions is better than fixing mistakes due to miscommunication.

The best listeners are courageous, and they trust that others will appreciate qualification. Business rapport is enhanced when a customer senses that you care enough to ask questions and verify the details. Unfortunately, some adults believe that asking too many questions might be perceived as a lack of intelligence. This is nonsense. If you need information, ask for it.

Steve Coscia, CSP

Posted In: ACCA Now, Customer Service

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