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Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer – 4/24/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks.

Regardless of the reason for the lack of dialogue, you need information. You have other customers to serve. You need to make the conversation work.

When you find yourself in a situation with a customer who is basically non-communicative, here are some tips to still hold an effective conversation:

  • Start by asking simple close-ended questions such as “Did you make the purchase in the store or online?” A few close-ended questions create a dialogue and add a little bit of rhythm to the conversation. The conversation starts to flow.
  • Be very appreciative of any response they give. You may reply to their brief response by saying “That helps!” or “Great!” Then go to your next question. You’re creating a positive tone instead of showing any frustration with their brevity.
  • Explain why you’re asking the questions. Oftentimes the hesitation is because they either don’t know why you need the information, or they are making negative assumptions about why you seek the information.
  • Confirm everything back to them. Because the non-conversational types usually don’t give you a lot of information up front, to ensure you understand the full picture, you often have to piece together multiple responses to your multiple questions.

 
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone who is obviously giving you very little to go on, hold back in your frustration. Taken a couple deep breaths, then get into a rhythm, be appreciative, explain why you need the information, and confirm it all back.

Learn how to deal with the non-conversational customer.

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Question without Questioning – 4/11/17

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


People great at customer service typically have the skill to artfully and effectively ask questions. By asking questions, you’re showing your interest, gaining control of the conversation, and learning about the specifics of the issue or need so you can tailor your response.

In a past Tip of the Week, I noted that asking questions (done incorrectly) can make it seem like you’re interrogating the customer – firing question after question at the customer.

There’s another risk to be wary of when asking questions of the other person. It’s the risk of the customer feeling like you’re questioning them – their motives, their honesty, their integrity, their intelligence.

You can run this risk primarily based on how your questions are delivered, not necessarily due to the questions themselves. Think body language and tone.

Imagine someone asking you the following question with their arms crossed, rolling their eyes, and emphasizing ‘that’ – “Why did you do that?”

Consider an employee with their eyebrow raised and asking you “So that was an accident?” You can almost feel them making air quotes as they say the word accident.

What if the employee said to you: “So what EX-ACT-LY was the purpose of that?”

When you want to ask the right questions for the right reasons, remember there’s a right way (and a wrong way) to do so. Ensure that your body language and tone don’t keep you from delivering a great experience.

Make sure you question without questioning.

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Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate – 10/18/16

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


One of the greatest skills someone in customer service can develop is the ability to ask questions – the right questions in the right way at the right time for the right purpose.

Asking questions allows you to control conversations, stay productive, learn a great deal, establish rapport, make the other person feel important, and get you what you need to help the customer.

As a part of a mystery shopping engagement with a client, we have recently run into two different employee examples of asking questions.

Rita is excellent. She knows the questions she has to walk through, but prior to asking the caller the questions to uncover their true need, she stated “Is it OK if I ask you some questions? I just want to get a better idea of how we can help you.” Then she moved into her questions, occasionally doing follow-up to what the caller had said. Rita came off to the caller in a positive manner – inquisitive, caring, patient, and helpful.

Bill wasn’t so great. After hearing an opening statement from the caller, he started asking question after question, never following up to what the caller stated. Never stating “that’s helpful” or “interesting point.” The questions always followed his script, and the conversation didn’t flow. If sounded more like a tennis match with a grunt with each swing of the racket than a flowing conversation. Bill came across as impatient – like he was interrogating the caller.

It’s great to ask questions of the customer – that’s how you learn; that’s how you understand the specific situation to better provide the specific answer or solution or product. But set up the questions with a statement of what you’re about to do and why; then let the questions flow as part of the conversation.

Make this skill a true strength for you and a positive experience for your customer.

Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate.

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