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Prevent yourself from being distracted by colleagues or external noises and concentrate on what your caller is saying.
You listen more effectively when you’re not talking, so refrain from interrupting your caller. Avoid pre-empting what your caller is going to say, chances are you will be wrong and miss some of the content of their conversation. Summarise and reflect back to check you have heard the key facts and content of the caller’s conversation correctly.
Have a pen and paper to hand and get into the habit of making short quick references to any questions you want to ask or points you wish to raise or comment on.
Avoid stereotyping individuals by making assumptions about how you expect them to act and what you expect them to say. We have tended to find that background noise and distractions in the room are one of the biggest barriers to listening skills.
We used dual ear noise cancelling headsets and this had a significant impact on the amount of background noise.
I want to comment on this article as a customer as well as a contact centre manager because I have witnessed everything I mention (visually & audibly) and I have been on the receiving end of the same as a customer.
In my experience the two main factors in ensuring your employees’ listening skills are at the very best level is by first of all removing all distractions such as internet, email, desktop games and similar and make sure everyone answering the phone has a pad and pen. Call centre layout will also help, especially if you’ve adopted the use of call centre furniture with divides, etc. While most mobile phones are banned from most companies, how many times have you seen the girls staring in their handbags or the boys rushing to the toilets on a frequent basis?
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes and there isn’t enough time in the day to list them all here. So to summarise: By removing all distractions and having team leaders and managers focusing some of their time and energy on these factors will enable customers to receive the very best attention from your employees. It reminds me that LISTEN attentively should come first & it is very crucial if we want to HELP customer efficiently without asking customer to REPEAT the same info twice. Thanks for great reminders of paying attention and listening, and it applies to all jobs not just those in the call centre. The following quiz shows just how shockingly little information we take in during a phone call. I think good listening is a life long learning skill, because emotions usually weaken what I have learned.

Fantastically crafted…The things mentioned in this article are actually obvious but oftenly forgotten by reps.
Great post, we agree that listening is really the key element here when talking to people on the phone.
This is a topic that has featured in most of my trainings, and agents still fall short of some these tips. Listening, means that you do just that, you Listen AND Understand, they have to go hand in hand in order to provide the customer with the service or resolution that they are looking for. Apart from this, I personally feel that improvement on active listening will surely help the other parameters as well.
As a communication consultant I am often asked, “What is the most important communication skill that managers and leaders bring to the table?” Hands down the skill is listening.
Many of us don’t consider listening as a separate communication skill, but the following chart demonstrates that that over 70 percent of a mid-level manager’s time is spent on verbal communication and listening comprises over half of that. When individuals listen they intentionally take in information while remaining non-judgmental, they acknowledge the other party, and they attempt to move a discussion forward.  This requires both parties taking responsibility for the interaction. Self-reflection is a good place to begin when it comes to assessing your listening proficiency. Do I think ahead about what I want my message to accomplish and how my audience might react or do I frame a discussion based on my preferences? Am I able to digest the essence of the message, ask good questions, and advance the conversation or have I formulated my response before the speaker finishes?
Am I aware of the effects of non-verbal behaviors (mine and the speaker’s) on the message or do I focus primarily on the words?
Based on your response to these questions, there are some proactive steps you can take to improve your listening abilities. Take Initiative – Make the effort to understand your audience and determine what they know about the topic.  Look for common areas of interest to promote your message.
Resist external distractions – Be aware of your surroundings and concentrate on eliminating anything that distracts from the discussion. Practice makes perfect – Good listening requires basic training and ongoing practice through intentional exposure to a variety of listening situations. Listening is the most important and least understood communication skill managers have at their disposal.  Understanding what effective listening entails, allocating resources to help people build those skills, and modeling good listening at all levels of the organization is a sound strategy for increasing performance and productivity.
And to see how bad I am as a listener - but illustrate one art of good listening, that of repeating what the other person has said!

I only got 50% on my first attempt, and considering I have an interview tomorrow to work in a call centre I think my listening skill need an overhaul.
It reminds me of my certification presentation as a CS Trainer for Centum Learning Ltd on topic Listening Skills. Also I know this sounds funny but I look at only one thing as I’m listening and it is an item on my desk. That does not negate the importance of other verbal and non-verbal communication skills, but research shows that as individuals rise in the organization, so does the amount of time they spend listening. Without these behaviors the result is often confusion, misunderstanding, conflict, negative emotions, frustration, etc., all of which affect personal and professional relationships. Interestingly, while this channel is most often used for learning, it is the least understood of the communication functions and our education system pays little attention to developing it. Continually working to hone listening skills means increases self-awareness and applying the best approach in a given situation.
In addition, effective listening acts to eliminate the tangible and intangible costs associated with poor communication practices.
Statements such as “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…” are great ways to reflect back and summarise.
If you are thinking of answers and responses whilst the caller is speaking, you are not listening. This is a problem because listening does not come naturally – it is an acquired skill.  We may possess some of the key attributes that make for effective listening, but we learn listening behaviors, much in the same way we learn to read, write, and speak.
I’d even go so far as to say that listening skills development can lead to a wealthier and more successful life! Listening attentively to the customer is half the battle and one that is in your power to control. We do not have cube’s, I do not belive they are practicle for our office because many times we a have to interact together because we get more than one caller at the same time calling on one client. It may sound funny but I already mastered how to pass the interviews and exams without sweat.

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