Customer Service: Asking the Right Questions
Did you know that more than 95% of unhappy customers never even tell you they were displeased with the treatment they received? They will, however, tell someone else … who will tell someone else … who will tell someone else. The art of being the business point of contact on the phone is that you must view every call as a form of service. Your job is not just to answer the phone for customers; it is also to service them quickly, efficiently and in a way that builds a loyalty and provides a positive call experience.
Let’s say, you have listened to your customer and have a general understanding of the situation based on his or her explanation. But you need to gather more information so you can accurately help your customer with the next step. There are four main types of questions that will assist you in getting the information you need.
1. General information questions (Open-ended—lets customer talk)
An open-ended question usually results in a lengthy explanation with some meaningful and some irrelevant facts. It can lead to an emotional outpouring if it goes on too long, but it does give you a broad brush view of the situation.
- “Can you please explain … ?”
- “Are you able to describe … ?”
2. Fact-finding questions (closed questions—limits customer’s responses)
These types of questions usually elicit “yes” or “no” responses or allow you to gather specific information. They limit the customer’s response and give you control over the conversation. Once you understand the problem, these questions allow you to hone in on the specific details.
3. Non-accusatory questions
A non-accusatory question stays away from blaming, shaming or embarrassing the customer. Tone of voice is important in asking non-accusatory questions. Your tone, pitch and words should be calm, respectful and supportive. Avoid accusatory language such as:
- “Why did you … ?”
- “What would cause you to think that would work?”
4. Solution questions
These are questions that take you closer to solving the problem.
- “Tell me, how can I help?”
- “Can you help me understand … ?”
Using telephone etiquette is more than knowing common courtesy and a friendly “hello.” It means treating others with courtesy and respect. It’s also about being comfortable around others and making others feel comfortable around you. Knowing the right kind of questions and when to ask them will certainly help you make your customers experience a positive one.