How to Ask Relevant Questions from Your Customers

ASKING QUESTIONS

Knowing how to ask relevant questions will certainly make your calls a lot easier. In every call, there’s a need to ask questions. Customers understand that, but when they feel that you are asking irrelevant and unnecessary questions, they will start to doubt your ability to help them with their concerns.

TWO KEY POINTS WHY RELEVANT QUESTIONS ARE IMPORTANT

  1. It helps you get to the resolution as super soon as possible.
  2. It builds your customer’s trust because the customer will feel that you know what you’re talking about.

Thus, it is crucial that you learn the art of asking relevant questions. Here are 5 TIPS for you.

1. Set expectations.

Even though customers are aware that they will be asked certain questions when they call, it is still best to set expectations and inform them why you are asking some questions. This is very important Why? Imagine yourself talking with a stranger and then suddenly that stranger asks questions that you are not sure are even relevant. You’ll probably feel doubtful and hesitant to answer, right?

The most common scenario for this would be when you are asking security questions at the beginning of the call.

EXAMPLE:
Customer: Hi, I’m calling because I want to see if my refund to my credit card is already showing.
Agent: Can I have your credit card number?

Right?? So the customer might be taken aback or caught off guard.

COMPARE IT TO THIS: 

Customer: Hi, I’m calling because I want to see if my refund to my credit card is already showing.
Agent: Sure, I’ll be glad to check your refund. For me to check your account, may I have your credit card number?
Customer: My credit card number is 12345678910.

By setting expectations, you are also justifying to your customer why you are asking questions and why they also need to answer you.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE:

Agent: Miss Washington, I’m going to ask you a couple of questions about your account so that I can give you the best possible solution to your concerns.

2. Use the Funnel Method

The Funnel Method is an effective technique to ask questions. You can also think of the funnel as an INVERTED PYRAMID. The wide base is for your open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are those that allow your customer to explain further. Questions that start with Why, How, or Can you please tell me..? are examples of open-ended ones.

When you start asking questions, the first stage is asking the open-ended ones. These questions will allow you to get as many pieces of information as you need to begin discovering the resolution of the call.

For example, you can ask – Mr. Gomez, can you please describe to me what you are seeing on your computer screen right now?

This will allow Mr. Gomez to explain further about what is going on like let’s say why he cannot use his computer.

The second stage is where your PROBING questions come in. A lot of the questions you use here are open-ended. In this stage of the question and answer part, you dig deeper into what really caused the issue because you want to know even more. There must be an underlying cause – something that you are not discovering yet.

The PROBING stage is usually a set of questions with more follow-up questions in order for you to get to the answers you need.

Examples:

So Mr. Gomez, may I know the steps that you already did to try fixing your computer issue?
Can you please tell me more about the error messages you received?

These questions dig deeper into what Mr. Gomez already did.

The third and last stage is asking closed-ended questions to confirm and clarify. This line of questioning allows you to solidify understanding about what has been discussed. It will also show your customer that you are really listening and doing your best to resolve the issue.

Closed-ended questions are those that provide solid confirmation such as Yes or No answers, or those that are answerable by one word or one line only.

Examples: 

Have you tried restarting your PC?
How about clearing your browser history?
Did you already clear the cache and cookies?

UNTIL YOU GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT ALL – the bottom of the funnel or the inverted pyramid.

PROBING
3. Listen.

I always say this and I can’t stress this enough. The most effective way for you to get to the root cause and to know how to formulate your follow-up questions is to LISTEN and pay attention. Listen to the full answer, the entire answer of your customer, and don’t interrupt.

Listening also ensures that your line of questioning is smooth and natural, and that it doesn’t sound monotonous just like when you are reading a script.

4. Be sensitive.

From this I mean, be professional and just ask relevant questions. The Filipino culture is so much different from the American culture or other Western countries that employ outsourcing. Be sensitive in a way that you make an effort to check the choice of words that you are using.

I know this can be quite difficult especially when you just explain as you would in your daily life, but sometimes there might be words that might be offensive or might mean discrimination for your customer. Do your best to use positive words and be genuine. This will ease your customer’s feelings when they call. When you start asking questions, they won’t feel as if they’re being harassed or anything like that.

Example:
In my previous company, one product we had was targeted for senior citizens. Another product was for high school students. So I did a mock call with one of my trainees. I played the customer’s role who was looking to open an account. So she asked me “Are you a senior citizen?” And then another trainee also asked me “Are you a teenager?”

So you see what I mean?

Those questions can be offensive and might be discriminatory. It gives off an impression that “SO WHAT IF I’m a senior citizen or if I’m a teenager? WHAT NOW? Do I have restrictions?”

Customers should never have to feel like they are being asked a random or totally unrelated question. Good thing it was just a mock call. The questions and responses could have been “What kind of benefits or value are you looking to have from a bank account? We actually have some initial deposit requirements for each type of account, so may I know how much you are planning to deposit as a start?”

listen
5. Respond accordingly.

When you ask a question, give time for the customer to think about the answer. Don’t rush them into answering. People need to think first ya know, except for questions that they are already familiar with.

When they do respond, that’s when you also respond accordingly but using acknowledgment or reassurance statements and empathy statements when needed. Don’t just stay silent and say nothing when the customer responds. Your customer needs to know that you are listening and that you are still on the line.

So that’s about! Any questions about asking questions? 😉 Feel free to comment below.

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