Use Active Listening to Validate a Customer's Needs


4 Mins

Before you resolve a customer’s complaint or

question, listen to them. Uncover and validate

their needs.

At the beginning of a customer service interaction (especially over the phone or in person), use the following methods to uncover a customers needs:

Use active listening to encourage the customer to share


Set aside any distractions (like instant messenger, or your afternoon snack) to focus on the customer. Let them talk, don’t interrupt, and demonstrate that you’re listening by nodding your head or saying,"Go on," and "Okay."

Seek out the personal impact on the customer


Your customer isn’t just coming to you because they need help choosing a product, or because their software isn’t working. They are coming to you because they have a personal need you can help them with. Listen to your customer, and ask questions until they reveal how this issue is impacting them personally.

Summarize, then validate your customer’s needs

Repeat the customer’s need back to them. This lets them know that you were listening, and that you’re on the same team as they are. They can also confirm that you’re right.

Let’s see this process in action. Say you work in retail, and a customer comes to you asking if you have any suits. The conversation might go something like this:

To recap:


Use active listening to encourage the customer to share

Seek out the personal impacton the customer

Summarize, then validateyour customer’s needs

Time for a quiz.


One of the patients at Regine’s dental practice says that she was charged the wrong co-pay for a procedure. The customer complains that because of this error, she’s had to take time out of her day to call her bank and now, the dentist. What should Regine say to the patient next?

Quiz 1 of 1

What should Regine say to the patient next?


a
"Let me look into this and see what I can do."
b
“And how would you say this has affected you personally?”
c
“So what I’m hearing is that this problem has cost you money, and a lot of time, is that right?
d
“I understand. Let me contact your credit card company and see if we can resolve that for you.”

The correct answer is C:“So what I’m hearing is that this problem has cost you a lot of time, is that right?”

The customer has already told Regine the personal effect of this (she wasted time). Now Regine should summarize and validate the customer’s need.

Practice it yourself:


The next time you talk to someone who has a complaint or a problem (like a coworker who is blowing off steam), try using active listening cues to let them know they're being heard.

Lesson complete

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