Expressing your wants feelings and opinions clearly and effectively is half of communication, and the other half is listening and understanding what others communicate to us. Listening involves truly understanding the customer. The single most important principle in the field of interpersonal relations is this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Most people listen, not with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply There is a logical connection between effective listening and speedy call resolution.

Yet many call center agents, even the can sometimes miss a trick. When calls are either high in volume or repetitive in nature there can be a tendency to rush through the standard questions, flick through the system screens at lightning speed and end the call. It may even appear that the call has been closed and that your team does not need any help to close calls even faster. If customer and caller satisfaction ratings are high and call volumes are as predicted then you may feel that all is well. However, there may be calls in the stack that are actually repeat calls because the resolution has been given in haste, on autopilot and, in fact, was not the correct resolution.

Unfortunately there is no magic formula for effective listening, however, it requires: Need to give more attention - Try to minimize distractions in the call center. For example, if the staff is permitted to have magazines or newspapers at breaks or on their desks during ‘quiet’ times of the day these can still be causing a distraction if they remain in their line of vision whilst on the telephone.

Reduce background noise 

The contact centre environment can be extremely noisy. To listen effectively we need to be able to filter out the background noise. Offer the option of double headsets (two earpieces instead of the standard single one) to allow agents to tune in to callers fully. Give Feedback and coach the performance of all calling agents regularly- The ability to play back recorded calls is ideal to illustrate where an agent may not be demonstrating the fundamentals of effective listening

Keep a note of where they have listened effectively and coach for improvement

If there are agents that other people in the contact center find consistently loud and, as a result, distracting, regular feedback and coaching is a must.
Consider rotating seats and positions in the contact center to keep people alert and avoid deep-seated frustrations or resentments brewing.As a leader or manager, it may be helpful to keep any agents that might be disruptively seated nearer to you.

Keep the call flowing effectively 

Show the caller that you are listening to them by using effective signposting throughout the call. Every call should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should include a warm, informative greeting and an invitation to the caller to give the reason for calling. The agent should then signpost what will happen next, what information they will need and what the likely outcome will be (especially if it is unlikely to be resolved by the end of the call). Don’t interrupt the caller - The basics of effective listening are obvious: not interrupting, summarizing back effectively and giving the right amounts and types of verbal nods, but these are often easier said than done. Train agents to wait a full second before responding to make sure the caller has finished what they were saying and doesn’t then feel interrupted.

Last but not least, make yourself a role model 

Finally, ensure you are a good role model for effective listening. Give your colleagues your full attention when they speak to you and practice questioning and summarizing techniques to encourage the habit. If you have a natural tendency to interrupt try to control it. You can do this easily on the telephone by simply jotting down the thought that popped into your head and waiting till it’s your turn. The other person will be able to express themselves more quickly and easily so you will get to the crux of the real issues faster and with better rapport.


- Vishal Parashar