Marketing Moment: Solving Customer Service Problems by Asking the Right Questions

Last week we wrote a blog about the customer being right.  In the scenario given, the customer ordering coffee felt blamed for the mistake rather than the barista using tact in resolving the issue.  Which one was right?  Was someone wrong?  In this instance we really don’t know.  Does it really matter?  The answer is no.

Customers are the lifeblood of a company.  How you handle customer service problems and complaints can be the difference between losing a customer or retaining a life-time patron.  How do you effectively resolve an issue for a customer?  Find a win-win situation for the customer and company by asking the right questions.  Before asking questions, you need to do a few things first and then resolve the complaint.

Show Understanding

One of my favorite quotes is by John C. Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, portraying empathy is the best way to quickly diffuse a situation.  This is more than saying “sorry”.  Let the customer know you feel for their situation and how it’s affecting them.

Understand the Problem

Find out the customer’s problem by asking how you can help.  Depending upon the industry, issues can range from a service, to product delivery, or a technology malfunction.  It may be an easy fix or, a very expensive one for your company.

Restate the Problem

Ensure you and the customer are on the same page; paraphrasing or restating are easy ways to do this. It gives the customer an opportunity to elaborate or add to their specific situation.  It also keeps you from going down the wrong path in attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.  After restating the problem, assure the customer you will help them.

Ask the Right Questions

Asking the right questions can make all the difference.  In management classes we are taught different questioning techniques, yet often times, we never think before asking the question.  It’s best to know what you want your end result to be before asking a specific question.  This can be as simple as asking yourself, “What do I want to accomplish out of this conversation?” or “How can I best satisfy this client?”

Ask open ended questions to gather all the facts, and know the customer needs.  Ask further probing questions to understand all components the issue has caused the customer.  Be sure to not start your questions with the word “Why.”  This makes the customer feel they are being interrogated.  Instead, use “How” or “What.”

Provide a Solution

While speaking to the customer, evaluate different solutions or options that could cure the customer’s headache.  If the resolution involves multiple departments and cannot be solved immediately, tell the customer and be responsive keeping them up-to-date in the process.  If a solution can be reached quickly, take ownership of and provide the customer resolution options.  Work together with them by asking questions to find out their most desirable outcome.

Fixing the problem could be very straightforward, or it could involve some negotiation.  Most times, the customer doesn’t want a refund or monetary credit, they just want it fixed.

If you run a business, customer complaints are inevitable regardless of industry.  By following the steps outlined, you have a better chance of retaining customers and ultimately building stronger relationships, as opposed to pointing the finger as written about in our previous blog.

What are your thoughts on Customer Service? Share your best ideas with us.

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About John Golly

I started at Swiftpage in November 2012 as a sales manager overseeing Swiftpage's Inside Sales team. I enjoy coaching and developing my sales team and seeing them grow personally and professionally. I am passionate about social media and marketing communications. In my off time, I am an avid mountain biker, cyclist, and hiker who enjoys spending time with my wife (She loves cycling and triathlons.) and Chesapeake Bay Retriever (He loves playing fetch and swimming.). I also volunteer for a local non-profit organization helping them with marketing communications, social media, and increasing participation in a local cycling event.

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  1. Marketing Moment: Build Anticipation and They Will Come | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - May 13, 2013

    […] Marketing Moment: Solving Customer Service Problems by Asking the Right Questions […]

  2. Top 10 Things NOT To Say On a Customer Service Phone Call | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - May 23, 2013

    […] Marketing Moment: Solving Customer Service Problems by Asking the Right Questions […]

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