Listen up!

Listening is a key part of customer service, without this skill you could miss vital information. There are many different aspects that make up effective listening,  Stevens (2010) states these as “Reflecting…Summarising…Paraphrasing…and Linear Probing…” and that by practising these skills can lead to some excellent customer service.  

Reflecting is understanding their emotion and why they are feeling that way.

Summarising is repeating back, in short, the main points of their issue.

Paraphrasing is the skill of repeating back key parts of a conversation, while it is still on going.

Linear Probing is the use of open questions, rather than closed ones, to obtain further information from the customer.

Stevens (2010) also recommends using the LISTEN acronym, as stated below:

– Look interested. This can be achieved through maintaining a good level of eye contact, keeping body language open, keeping relaxed and facing the speaker.

– Inquire with questions. This will enable you to use the various techniques of questioning to clarify the speakers meaning and to find out all relevant facts.

– Stay on target. Always remember what you are trying to achieve, listen for the complete message, don’t prejudge what they are trying to convey and don’t interrupt unless it is to bring them back to point.

T – Test your understanding. Check that you understand their request. Use your own words, and paraphrasing to clarify anything you are unsure of.

E – Evaluate the message. Identify the purpose of the customer, analyse what is being said and how they are portraying their feelings through body language and tone of voice.

N – Neutralise your feelings. Do not react adversely to what is being said, avoid becoming emotional or heated, keep your mind open and show a genuine interest.


It is well known across customer service industries that listening is made up of three aspects, these aspects are given a percentage of how they contribute to communication overall. The aspects of communication are words, tone and body language.

Words, so what is being said, contribute to 7% of communication.

Tone, how it is being said, contribute to 38% of communication.

Body language, how you are standing and facial expressions, contributes to 55% of communication.

These aspects and figures were noted by Albert Mehrabain, in 1981, in his research topic called “Silent Messages”.


Reference list:, (2016). “Silent Messages” — Description and Ordering Information. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2016].

Stevens, D. (2010). Brilliant customer service. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall.





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