Little Things Part 7: Ask them questions and keep the answers in mind.

This is sort of an extension of “make customers feel important.” When you ask customers questions, and actually consider what they say, it makes them feel important and subsequently improves the level of service.

Some things to ask and tips on keeping the answers in mind:

  • Ask customers about their skills. A customer that truly doesn’t know about technology will tell you if you ask. A lot of people will say they’re experts, but a lot will honestly tell you their skill level. Ask people how familiar they are with the product or type of product, etc. Customers will appreciate you asking.
  • Adjust accordingly. If a customer tells you he or she isn’t good with technology, adjust what you say accordingly. Don’t use technical terms and explain more. Give extra instructions and help when necessary and exclude them when appropriate.
  • Clarify before asked. If you say anything where you think a customer may ask “Could you clarify?”, clarify it right away (before you’re asked). If you think something is unclear, chances are the customer will so clarify it before they have to ask. This is also called explaining things thoroughly.
  • Learn about the customer. Learn about the customer not only on a personal level (what do you do for a living, other small talk), but on a professional level. Ask them questions like how long have you been with us, any problems, anything I can do to help, etc. If a customer says something, note it and if necessary, follow-up.
  • Listen. If more people in customer service (especially sales) listened closely, service would be so much better. Simply listen to what your customer is saying and you’ll learn an awful lot.

Just a few tips on how to anticipate questions and ask the right questions. The best rule of thumb is to do the five W’s and one H.

  • Who is the customer.
  • What is the customer’s general skill level, service type, etc.
  • Why is the customer contacting you? (i. e. the problem)
  • Where is not really that important. It makes for good small talk, though. Ask the customer where he or she is from and currently lives.
  • When is the best time for the customer to receive any follow-up phone calls or emails.
  • How are you going to go about fixing the customer’s problem or addressing the customer’s concern?

Keep your customers’ opinions (listen) in mind and they’ll be happy.