Customers and Listening

Yesterday I was finishing up my daily routine at the office when I received a phone call that made my heart drop. One of my customers lost her job, a parent from cancer, and her fiance’ all in three months. As she poured her heart out, I listened intently and recognized her struggles. Other than express my condolences, I honestly didn’t know how to make her feel better. Her sobs were intense, her voice hoarse from the crying, and her fatigue was prominent. My heart sank, knowing there was nothing I could do but listen.  

Sometimes that’s all we need in life. We need people to let us vent when the world has gotten too intense. We don’t want to hear our friends criticize our decisions, and many times we want to go somewhere no one knows our identity. Understandably, we confide in people we don’t know because that can feel safer than confiding in loved ones.  

I bottle a lot up inside because I don’t want to hear people tell me, “I told you so.” Some people get off on that statement because they feel inclined to do so. Others have to brag that they are always right even when they are wrong. Sometimes I’m not wrong about my convictions, while others, I have to swallow my pride and admit that I was wrong. Owning our mistakes isn’t easy, but it’s essential if we want to grow.  

I’ve had customers vent their anger to me when I wasn’t part of the problem, and I’ve had to learn to stay calm and remain kind even when they are being a grade “A” jerk. Throughout all the rough conversations that I’ve been privy to, there is one constant. We all need kindness extended to us when we are struggling in life. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. The most challenging part of being the venting outlet for folks is when you can’t vent yourself. It is because of the actions these customers displayed that I recognized some helpful tips I’d learned. I hope they help you as well.

  1. Remain calm. Getting upset won’t do any good. Plus, many people hate it when they can’t ruffle your feathers. They want you to get angry so that you can get in trouble. Please don’t give them satisfaction.
  2. Practice active listening.  If you listen to what people are telling you, you might learn more than what they are saying. Listening gives way to providing practical solutions. In many ways, it’s an invaluable tool.   
  3. Repeat back what your customers say.  This action is one of the best ways to make sure you hear what is voiced.  
  4. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.  If you know why people are upset, you have information. Knowledge truly is power. If you aren’t aware of problems, you can’t fix them, but you have a better ability to improve what’s wrong if you are aware.
  5. Explain the steps you’ll take to solve the problem.  People get excuses all the time, but if you give them actions to get a solution, it’s incredible how much they calm down.  
  6. Set a time to follow up with them, if needed. Following up with people lets them know they are more than a number. It shows that you establish a connection, and people like to feel valued.  
  7. Be sincere.  People can smell fakeness a mile away. If you are sincere, they will recognize you are there to treat them with respect. That action goes a long way.  

I hope these help you like these tips have helped me. Remember, you have the power and ability to make someone’s day better. Don’t let people who have consistent chips on their shoulders make your day worse. Have a great day, everyone. 


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