Thursday, April 26, 2018

The art of listening

Many organizations are afraid to get feedback from their customers or the public.

They do not know how to respond to the feedback, which are usually complaints or requests to change their current practices.

Their front line staff are not well trained in dealing with these feedbacks.

Some of the feedbacks could take more than an hour to resolve and may drag on for several days or weeks.

I have a practical advice on how to deal with these feedback.

The staff should be trained to recognize the difference between :

a) Listening to the feedback; clarify and reconfirm what had happened and
b) Responding to the feedbac.

In many cases, the front line staff respond to the feedback before listening and understanding the issue. This usually leads to a lengthy exhange.

I prefer to have a break between the two parts of the process.

I would listen to the feedback, understand the issue and clarify the concern. If it is straightforward, I would respond to the issue immediately.

If it is complicated or if the first response is not accepted, I would take a break. I would respond to the party that I would seek clarification an give a reply later. 

There is also an art in listening, so that it does not take too much time. If the issue is complicated, I will ask the party to send details by email to me. If they write down the issue, they are more likely to put it in a more concise and clearer manner, compared to talking over the telephone.

By adopting this approach, I keep the conversation short so that I can serve the next customer. 

Most customers are happy with this approach. They will appreciate that the front line staff has taken the trouble to listen.

Tan Kin Lian

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