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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

How To Really Listen

One of the most undervalued skills that an individual can possess is the ability to listen. Are you really hearing your customers?

You’re reading How To Really Listen, day 3 of 5 Days to Outstanding DBA Customer Service. What prompted this journey into exploring what is Outstanding Customer Service for the Data Professional?  Good Question.  You can find exactly why in day 1 here.

How to Really Listen to Your Customers

"Focus and really listen"

The Truth About Listening

It’s so important to focus and listen to what your customer are saying to you. As technology professionals most of us don’t listen nearly as well as we think we do.

Sure we have good intentions and we really do want to solve the customers issue. Without discipline however, as soon as we have even the slightest inclination of what the source of the problem may be, we’re already implementing four different potential solutions in our mind.  All the while the customer is still relaying further information that we’re probably no longer really listening to. Sound familiar?

Don’t jump the gun like this. In circumstances where a solution is not immediately clear, more often than not your customer already knows what the source of their problem is and you either have not been listening or not asking the right questions.

The Benefits of Good Listening Skills

This is not a skill that is beneficial to the DBA or Data Professional exclusively. Listening effectively is essential to providing good customer service in any profession.

A good listener builds trust with their customers. They are able to pick up on the subtleties that others miss and have an ability to really understand their customers. Something we covered the importance of previously in Think Like A Customer.

How To Become a Better Listener

  • Let your customer do the talking. Don’t interject to offer opinions, that’s not listening. Allow the customer to speak freely so that you may concentrate on truly listening.
  • Give the customer your full attention and focus.
  • Show that you are listening with your whole body. Fully face your customer when dealing in person and present open body language.
  • Occasionally ask open ended questions, to encourage further discussions.
  • Relay back what you have heard your customer speak to you, demonstrating clearly that you have been listening and are working with them toward a solution.

“Today I want you to really focus on listening to your customers. You may be surprised at what you actually hear.”

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