you are still not listening to me


This weeks THE REPORT addresses 5 issues pertinent to offering the service customers demand.

It is very often very easy to determine what it is that a customer needs and wants. What is very often very much more difficult is giving the customer the confidence that you understand their needs and wants.

Listening and substantiating that listening has occurred is critical to establishing customer confidence and satisfaction and ultimately to maximising sales and the average sale per customer.

I have conducted upwards of 100 surveys on behalf of professional service firms and listening skills are almost always an issue. Firms that have staff who listen and demonstrate that they have done so are applauded. On the other had firms where staff respond before they are seen to have listened are criticised.

I would argue that many people are all too eager to offer a solution before they have listened long enough to be sure they are offering the best possible solution and give the customer the confidence that this has occurred.

Confidence comes from taking the time to listen, asking the right questions, confirming an understanding of the customer’s needs and the offering a solution built around the understanding secured. Restating the problem in different words can be a useful tool here.

I would argue that this relates to a number of factors including:

  • A lack of appreciation of the importance of listening.
  • A lack of training in listening skills.
  • An erroneous view that the customer wants an instant response.

Listening is important not just to determine the need but to determine the best possible solution and establish the confidence of the customer.

Listening skills are not innate for most people. For most people listening is an acquired skill and as such training is essential.

Customers, even when in a hurry want the best possible solution. That requires listening.

With professional service providers I often find that they fail to listen and respond with a solution quickly in an effort to demonstrate how clever they are – or in an attempt to add value quickly. The fact is however, the customers wants to explain the situation and wants to feel that the service provider clearly understands the issues and parameters.


  1. It is very difficult to get the confidence of the customer without listening and demonstrating that listening has occurred.
  2. Listening is particularly important in the professional service environment – an environment in which they are also most lacking.
  3. Listening, questioning and confirming understanding are learned skills, so training is essential.
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