Listen up! Tips to improve customer service

When you have a to-do list a mile long and a million little things on the golf course seem to be demanding immediate attention, it’s easy to get distracted when members and golfers approach you with a question or problem. Whether you’re on the phone or on your way out to check the irrigation system, a customer can sense your preoccupation. It is vital that you make them feel important and that what they have to say is being heard. 

Good listening skills are an easy way to improve your customer service skills and keep golfers happy. Listening carefully to your staff and co-workers is also a great way to strengthen working relationships. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Make a conscious decision to become a better listener.  Realize that this is something that will take practice and commit yourself to learning to listen.
  • Concentrate. It is common for part of the mind to be occupied thinking of other things while someone else is talking—often you are already forming a response before the other person finishes speaking. This can lead to missed details and false assumptions. Concentrate only on what the person is saying to make sure you have all available information.
  • Make eye contact. This is not only common conversational courtesy, it also helps cut down on distractions. If you are only looking at the speaker, they know they are being listened to; and your mind is less likely to be distracted.
  • Don’t interrupt. If a questioning golfer pauses, it is appropriate to give feedback to show that you are paying attention (“I see what you’re saying,” “Thank you for bringing this to my attention,” etc.). However, interrupting will make the speaker feel slighted and make you appear rude. Interrupting may also lead to making incorrect assumptions—make sure you allow the speaker to finish his or her thought so you’re sure you understand the issues.
  • Repeat key points and ask questions. To show the speaker that you understood and to cement the question or issue in your memory, summarize or paraphrase what you heard. This allows the speaker to clarify details and lets him or her know that you were listening.
  • When possible, take notes. If an already-aggravated member is forced to repeat him/herself, the speaker may get even more upset. Jotting down important information assures that you remember names, dates and issues.

Listening carefully makes the listener more productive and the speaker feel appreciated. Good listening skills can make you a better team player as well as a better leader. Respect and pay attention to those who come to you with problems or questions; and solving those problems and answering questions becomes much easier.

Sources:  "Career Planning: Now Pay Attention," Dawn Rosenberg McKay; "Leadership:  Attributes of Good Listening," R. Campbell; “Improving Listening Skills,” Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor.