5 tips to answer customer service questions

Customer service often means answering customer’s questions and no matter how these questions are conveyed, whether electronically or in person, there are certain principles that must be followed to ensure both good customer service and customer satisfaction. These principles are:

  1. Reality trumps imagination
  2. Genuine interest is vital
  3. Pay attention
  4. Professionalism is respected
  5. The only answers that count are the ones given from a power position

Let’s take a look at each.

Reality trumps imagination

In our modern era, when speed is of the essence, there is a strong tendency for customer facing employees to guess answers to questions that are beyond their knowledge and then attempt to sell that answer to the customer. They treat the customer as something to be handled and gotten out of the way. Help desks have this problem as well. It’s impossible to have every answer at your fingertips and so the temptation is to make something up or make promises that cannot be fulfilled in order to “resolve” the issue as fast as possible. This is never a good idea, it can backfire and turn a frustrated customer into an angry customer. Unfortunately, saying “I don’t know” is not a good answer either, customers expect employees to have the answers. The best response would be something like, “I’ll find out for you, would you like to hold or shall I call you back?” or, “Please wait here, I’ll be right back with your answer”.

Genuine interest is vital

No one should be on the front line who doesn’t care what the customer thinks or who looks upon the customer as a distraction. Employers sometimes unwittingly cause this problem by loading down customer facing employees with too many functions outside of customer service. A harried employee is unlikely to provide the best customer service.

Pay Attention

Helping the customer means understanding what the customer needs. It’s perfectly alright to confirm that understanding with the customer before taking action.

Professionalism is respected

Talk in a respectful unhurried, but not slow, tone of voice. Stay away from using slang or technical terms that the customer might not understand. Keep to the subject at hand and maintain a positive attitude, even if the customer isn’t all that positive at the moment. Staying professional shows respect to the customer and encourages respect in return.

The only answers that count are the ones given from a power position

Front line employees should have the power to deal with all but the most extraordinary problems. For example; a help desk agent who reverses a bank fee is powerless if someone over his head can override his decision. And what happens when the customer sees that fee back on his bank statement again? You now have an employee who is reluctant to help future customers, because he knows he can’t really fix anything, and you’ve got an irate customer as well.

If you follow these principles when helping customers and in training employees, your business will gain a reputation for excellent customer service.