You hear similar statements all the time, and, yes, these are all important things, but what do they really mean? Here are some examples:
You’re a fan relations representative for a pro sports club, and the season ticket holder asks if they can relocate from their seats to a certain section with no availability. Instead of simply saying “No,” ask “Is there something in particular you like about that section?” You might uncover a reason for their move that could be addressed elsewhere.
You work for a local municipality, and the developer says they need a permit. Instead of assuming what permit they need, you could say “I’d be happy to help you with that! Tell me a little about the project so I can best help you get started.”
You work for a hospital, and the patient says they “need a smoke.” Of course, it’s a smoke-free campus, so you say “Unfortunately, we can’t do that since it’s a smoke-free campus, but help me understand what you’re feeling that’s making you want to smoke, and maybe I can find a way to help you.”
If you are someone interested in being an “Active Listener” or a “Critical Thinker,” someone interested in “Root Causes” or “Core Needs,” that’s a good desire to have – especially in customer service. But don’t get too hung up on the fancy terms. Look at the three examples just provided to truly understand what’s being suggested by those terms:
- Be inquisitive; ask questions – they show you’re engaged and care.
- Understand their goal, so you can better understand potential solutions.
- Don’t make assumptions – you might waste your time and that of the customer by going down the wrong path based on misinformation.
- Be patient – don’t hear the symptom and think you know the root cause.
- Restate your understanding of the person’s needs; ensure you know so specifically what they want that you can address it right the first time.
Practice Active Root Core Thinking…or just plain old good communication skills.