Call center outsourcing: Three barriers to effective listening

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Effective listening is one of the basic skills required in outsourcing call centers. It also happens to be one of the most important. Without it, an agent cannot efficiently assist a customer, much more provide a first-contact resolution.

Lack of this skill may make customers feel that agents are not trying their best to help.

Here are the common barriers to effective listening in call centers.

Common distractions

Distractions should be lessened to none. Realistically speaking, however, a call center job comes with many distractions. There are noise disturbances from ringing phones, other agents who are also taking calls, and perhaps background music from somebody's sound system or headphones. There are also the widely popular social networking sites and other entertainment portals accessible from the Internet. All this interfere with communication.

Call center managers should decrease causes of distraction to allow their agents to focus on the task at hand. Similarly, agents must make an effort to stay focused on talking with the customer and make it their top priority.

Frequent interruptions and preemption

It's not uncommon for customer service agents, under in-house or outsourcing call centers, to assume that they already know what a customer is going to say. After all, they take calls a hundred of times a week and are already knowledgeable with common queries or issues.

This might sound reasonable, but in actually, it merely prevents customers from communicating the real issues. Also, chances are the agent may get the picture wrong and even miss out on pertinent details.

Instead of interrupting or pre-empting the customers, allow them to finish what they're saying. It's common courtesy and makes for effective listening.

Egoistic attitude

Agents hold valuable information, and this is exactly the reason customers approach them. Still, ego should not take over. There are cases wherein agents think they know more about the customers or that they are right and customers are immediately wrong. They then refuse to listen further. This deters only not clear communication, but also learning.

Agents should listen more than they talk. They should also keep an open mind and listen to what the customers have to say before attempting to provide any assistance.

These barriers to listening serve as a hindrance to good customer service. By breaking these down, call center agents can improve their listening skills and, subsequently, customer experience.

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