Two Keys to Success: Why Listening and Empathy Are Crucial for Customer Retention

call center worker listening with empathy

In customer service, communication isn’t just about having your ears open. It’s about understanding people and their point of view. It’s about recognizing that customers need and deserve to be treated with care. Every customer wants to feel that their input and their business matter to your company. Regardless of the industry, active listening and empathy are the keys to customer retention and satisfactory customer interactions.

Active Listening Techniques for Phone Representatives

The concept of active listening was developed in 1951 by award-winning humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers and his colleague Richard Farson. Since then, active listening has become a cornerstone technique used in interviews, mediation sessions and law enforcement investigations, but it’s always had a place in customer service.

In a call center environment, a customer service representative can’t use physical cues and body language, such as maintaining eye contact and nodding, to show that they’re actively listening to the caller. However, they can use verbal affirmations to achieve the same objectives.

  • The first component of active listening is gathering factual and emotional information. According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience study, people remember just 20 percent of what they hear, but if they jot down notes and are actively engaged in the conversation, retention jumps to 90 percent.
  • The next stage involves reflecting and clarifying factual details as well as the caller’s feelings. Active listeners typically paraphrase this information with a testing question, rather than simply parroting the customer.

Empathy and the Psychology of Good Customer Service

According to Rogerian principles, the next level of active listening is active empathic listening. This technique shows callers that you understand what’s going on inside their head and that you relate to them on a personal level. Emotional intelligence is the foundation of empathic listening. This innate ability allows individuals to perceive and act on the subtleties of conversation, such as tone, volume and inflection.

Emotional intelligence is why customers are like bloodhounds when it comes to detecting insincerity and platitudes. They can tell instantly if a representative simply wants to get off the phone and onto the next call as quickly as possible. Like Rogers and Farson said, telling a person that you respect them is much less effective than demonstrating it through your behavior.

Phone representatives can show respect by allowing customers to express their concerns fully and without interruption or prejudice. Listening and expressing empathy are two of the best ways to defuse tension and anger, which increases customer satisfaction and retention. They’re also valuable skills in the workplace and at home.

Implementing Active Listening Strategies

If you’re interested in working with an onshore call center, contact Ameridial today to request a complimentary no-obligation quote or to speak with an expert. We use active listening techniques in our employee training programs and on the job every day, and we promise to listen to you too.