Active listening is a technique that is used by people in many different careers and fields. It helps draw out information from someone by being empathetic. For those in your intake staff, being an active listener can help get necessary information from potential clients while providing the empathy that claimants are looking for. It can help build trust between the claimant and your firm before they even become a client. There are many different techniques your intake staff can use to be active listeners.
Repeating: Repeating what the claimant says helps show that you are listening. This doesn’t mean to repeat what the claimant said verbatim, but to paraphrase what you heard. Stating something like “So just to clarify…” is a great way to demonstrate you’re listening to the claimant and will make sure you have the correct information.
Ask Questions: Relevant questions confirm you are listening to what is being said and are trying to further understand the claimant’s situation. Open-ended questions can encourage the claimant to speak further on their claim or situation. Keeping the dialogue flowing will let you better understand the claimant’s situation and if they have a perusable case. Asking specific questions will help you get more specific information and help the claimant trust you. Asking “Which Dunkin’ Donuts branch in Boston were you at when you slipped on the spilled coffee?” lets the claimant know you heard that the fall took place at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Boston and they slipped on a coffee spill.
Acknowledge: One of the biggest ways to show you are listening is to acknowledge the speaker. If you were to be face to face, this can mean simply nodding your head. But because most of the intake process happens over the phone, you’ll have to verbally acknowledge the speaker. Simply saying “okay”, “uh huh”, “got it”, etc. while the claimant is telling their story helps them know you are on the other line hearing what they are saying.
Mirror Tone: When a claimant calls in frantic and upset, use a calm voice to try to reduce their stress and help them calm down rather than continue to get worked up. If a claimant is more upbeat and positive, respond in the same positive manner. It will allow for a friendly conversation and a claimant that is more willing to share information with you.
Affirmations: Validating someone’s frustrations can help build trust and show that your firm cares. Try using phrases like “I understand your frustrations” or “I’m sorry to hear that” to someone who was just in an accident or received a difficult diagnosis.Remove Judgment: The last thing someone wants to hear is judgment for his or her situation. Your intake staff will hear a variety of stories and situations. Removing all judgment will provide a space where claimants feel safe to tell their story.
Don’t Interrupt: Interrupting not only comes off as rude, but it can disrupt the train of thought of the claimant. Let the claimant finish their thought before responding. You don’t want to interrupt and miss a key piece of information for the claim.