Customers want to be heard. If they have an issue or need or something that requires your support, they want to be understood.
When we are trying to find a resolution or fulfill a need, when we’re trying to help a customer achieve their goal, sometimes we can be so immersed in the details of the situation that we lose sight of the big picture. Other times, we can be so focused on our policies or our procedures, our products or protocols, that we’re not truly seeing this from the customer’s perspective. And in this day and age, sometimes we’re just so busy that we don’t have the time or patience or inclination the handle the situation correctly.
To simplify things for ourselves and increase the opportunity for success for the customer, when you have the responsibility to support the customer in addressing their issue, need, or goal, keep in mind 3 Key Questions:
What’s their STORY?
Ask about their situation. Try to understand a little bit about who they are as a person and the lens through which they’re viewing what’s going on. Note where they’re coming from so that you know the starting point from where you can lead them.
What’s their GOAL?
Sometimes the customers are really good at giving us the game plan for how they want us to fix their situation, but often their game plans won’t work. There’s some policy or time constraint or procedure or approach in their plan that will not work. So, put yourself in the role of being the solution-provider – understand their goal. And once you understand, keep this goal at the forefront of the remainder of the conversation.
What’s their PATH?
This is where you, as the expert, truly become the solution-provider. You know their story…so you can empathize. You know their goal…so you understand the desired outcome. Now, you can map out a path for getting from their point A to the desired point B, and you can describe that path based on your understanding of the individual in front of you in the story they have told.
When you are helping somebody out of a bad situation or getting a need addressed, when you’re dealing with somebody who has a certain goal and they don’t know how to get there, simplify things for yourself. Keep 3 Key Questions top-of-mind to help you navigate the conversation.
What’s their Story? What’s their Goal? What’s their Path?