15 Handy Tips for CSMs to Polish Their Active Listening Skills

Here are some handy tips for CSMs to polish their active listening skills.

Active Listening Skills
Active Listening Skills

As a customer success manager, you spend a lot of time in customer meetings, sales calls, and product meetings. A CSM needs to be a great communicator to engage with external and internal stakeholders. You need to connect with your customers and explain products in detail. All this communication requires one skill- active listening.

Customers and other stakeholders need to listen to the CSM to know more about the company, product, pricing, and features. Active listening means intently listening to customer issues, goals, and frustrations. Customer partnership can be successful when engagement is a two-way street. This means both parties need to listen and understand what the other is saying.

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is the practice of making an effort not to hear what the person is saying but understand and comprehend the message communicated. Active listening is not just hearing the customer. It is more than that to uncover and discover the meaning.

Active listening helps uncover the problems and root cause of customer irritation and frustrations. If a customer is saying the product is not working for him, there is a reason for it. This means they are looking for a way to reach a goal.

Importance of Active Listening

Customer success managers hear their clients, their complaints, goals, stories, and questions all day. This can lead to a lot of information leading to passive listening. You need to actively listen to the important parts at least to offer valuable insights. Active listening can improve prospects of growth in the long run.

15 Handy Tips for CSMs to Polish Their Active Listening Skills

Here are some top tips that CSMs can follow to improve their active listening skills. This advice will help them engage with internal and external resources on a deeper level. You can also avoid future issues and create lasting outcomes.

Tip #1 Be Curious

The first and foremost tip to improve active listening skills is that customer success managers need to be curious. CSMs need to ask questions and show how engaged they are. This will help deepen your understanding. This will also show customers that you are invested in their success and growth. Probe into their query, nudge them for more information, and be genuinely into what they are saying.

Tip #2 Listen for both context and subtext

To understand the issue well, you need to pay attention to what the speaker is saying (context) as well as the nonverbal communication (subtext). Nonverbal communication means a pause, facial expression, pain, vocal tone, or any factor. These cues are often nonverbal but help you learn and connect deeply with what is being said. Knowing what the customer feels without them communicating it is the key to enriching relationships.

Tip #3 Know how to PACE the conversation

Two-way communication in an open manner is the key to building a good rapport. With the PACE formula, you can maximize customer interactions and enhance active listening. PACE can be expanded into Purpose, Ask, Connect, and Encourage. Purpose means where you determine the core and central factor of the message, Ask is where you respond to the question and encourage more communication. Connect is the third aspect of this equation. You need to evaluate their body language to confirm the connection. Encourage is the final piece in this where you thank them for their inputs and ideas.

Tip #4 Be Present

Eliminate distractions and focus on what they are saying. You can often notice energy shifts during conversations. CS leaders need to enhance their listening skills to enhance effectiveness. You need to ask open-ended questions. This will help the customer understand the end goal and thus discover the larger problem.

Tip #5 Have no Agenda

You will only meet your needs if the other person has no bias. The other person needs to feel understood and respected. This means a CSM needs to put all bias and agenda aside and ensure the other person feels understood. The CSM has no bias or agenda and thus is able to listen to the customer’s opinion in a better manner.

Tip #6 Listen to Learn

Listen to learn instead of responding. It is easy to comment or offer a quick solution. Good listeners need to be silent to understand and metabolize what they heard. Give an example or a story only if it answers the customer’s query. The best response is often not saying anything to them.

Tip #7 Ask for feedback

Active listening skills need continuous improvement. One needs to ask for feedback in case one wants to improve. You can share the course of the call with your team to understand the outcome better. Constructive feedback is conducive to growth.

Tip #8 Curb the urge to solve the problem

Kill the urge to problem-solve. Problem-solving is a great skill. However, you need to suspend your urge to respond to become a better listener. Let the customer finish what they are saying before jumping to conclusions or solving the problem at hand. Be conscious of what you say in a conversation.

Tip #9 Reduce distractions

We live in a digital world. When in a conversation, you need to be an active listener. Let go of all distractions that tune us out from the conversation. Cell phone notifications, external noise, alerts, and computer screens can all reduce the quality of conversations. You need to shut off all noise and distractions to become a better listener.

Tip #10 Empathize with them

You need to develop empathy with the customer and validate their feelings. You can gauge responses based on the situation and show attention to customers. Keeping yourself in their shoes will help you make a mark.

Tip #11 Create a culture of speaking up

Purposeful listening is a very important aspect for a leader. It is imperative to create a culture of speaking up, which establishes the need to listen carefully. You need to let customers speak and voice their concerns about any problems.

Tip #12 Adapt to the moment

A leader with excellent listening skills will understand the need of the customer. You need to adapt quickly to the conversation and align with customers. CSMs need to know what is critical and what is not.

Tip #13 Write down a summary

A powerful habit is to write what you heard. An accurate summary can help you document the session and give others a chance to understand and process it in a better manner. Many people leave this important aspect. However, you need to put this down in a tactile manner thoughtfully.

Tip #14 Repeat what the other person is saying

The best way to actively listen is by repeating what the customer says. For example- phrases like ‘is this right?” or “Have I got this correctly? – can help you acknowledge the question and demonstrate openness.

Tip #15 Keep your mind focused

Awareness of your mind or self-awareness is critical to active listening. Is your mind stable? Are you thinking about something else? Are you thinking about a response? Are you keeping yourself in the customer’s shoes? You need to know where your attention is. This will help you build new habits.25

Active listening is an important aspect and skill that every customer success manager needs to master. Keep customers in mind and try to engage them in every manner. Implementing active processes will ensure one becomes a better listener.

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