How to use deep listening in your live chat conversations

Have you ever tried speaking to someone, only to give up because they seem so disinterested? It’s not a nice feeling. And it comes from a lack of deep listening.

In a customer service context, this disinterest is easy to inadvertently display. In the rush to solve the problem and move to the next customer, you can often forget to really listen. The end result is unhelpful advice and unfriendly service.

Deep listening is as important in live chat conversations as it is over the phone or face to face. But without the voice to listen to, how do you achieve deep listening in live chat conversations?


What is deep listening (and what is it not?)

Deep listening is a process where you actively listen with the goal of learning and understanding. In customer service, it’s about making sure you’re paying attention to the whole story. (Before you think about finding a solution.)

Deep listening means showing that you’re interested and engaged in what the customer has to say. So, if you’re jumping to conclusions, interrupting, or rushing to solve the problem, you aren’t using deep listening.

In live chat, then, deep listening means making sure — and showing — that you’ve taken every message on board.


1.    Focus on the customer

Live chat software is great for multitasking. But when you’re reading a customer’s last live chat message, that’s all you should be doing. This is the most important part of deep listening in your live chat conversations.

So, before you reply, don’t skim through or skip to the end. Don’t make notes or converse with your colleagues. Instead, read what the customer has said in full, and make sure you understand everything they’re saying. 

If you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions to clarify obscure points. Asking clarifying questions shows the customer that you’re interested in understanding them. It shows that you’re taking their messages seriously.


2.    Be empathetic

The need for understanding in deep listening doesn’t apply to the customer’s problem alone. Rather, deep listening means understanding the customer on an emotional level, too.

In short, you need to be empathetic. Responding appropriately to how the customer is feeling in your live chat conversations shows that you’re listening. It’s simple: empathy makes people feel listened to, understood and cared about.

But with live chat conversations, this isn’t always easy. You don’t have vocal tones or facial cues to help you out. It’s here that tools like chat mood come in handy. With it, you get a real-time indicator of the mood behind the messages. So, you can show you’re listening to the customer’s feelings, as well as the problem.


3.    Avoid assumptions

When you don’t use deep listening in your live chat conversations, it’s easy to fall foul of assumptions. At busy times, the drive is to solve problems as soon as possible and move on. So, the moment we think we know what the customer is about to say, we interrupt with a half-baked solution.

Indeed, it’s often easy to assume what the customer will say next and pass judgement before hearing all the facts. But this often frustrates the customer. After all, you haven’t even bothered to pay attention to the information they’ve spent precious time sharing.

So instead, do your best to suspend your judgement (and your solution) until you’ve got the whole story.


4.    Don’t get defensive

Sometimes, customers come to the live chat conversation emotional. They might be angry, or upset, and they use you as a target to vent their frustrations or place blame. No, it’s not fair, but you don’t need to make excuses on behalf of the company (or yourself) either.

When you get defensive and start trying to justify the problem or place blame, you aren’t listening anymore. Your attention is no longer on what the customer is saying, nor is it on understanding the problem. In short, you aren’t using deep listening.

So, if you’re feeling guilty for the problem, or defensive against the customer, take a breath. Then, look at the messages the customer has sent again, and focus on what the problem is. Remember, you’re there to help, not take the blame.

Note, this does not mean that deep listening requires you to put up with abusive behaviour.


Leverage deep listening in your live chat conversations

When it comes down to it, using deep listening in your live chat conversations means listening to your customer before you try to help them. It’s that simple.

So, why not take out a free trial of WhosOn, and give deep listening via live chat a try?


Useful links

Seven empathy statements to use in your live chat sessions

When chatters attack: dealing with abusive customers

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