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What Do You Want?

December 10, 2012

Recently, I received a call back from an inquiry I had made and the person who called me back said, “I am not sure why you called. This was transferred to me and I have a feeling he only listened to the first part of what you said. That happens all the time.”

I was frustrated and satisfied at the same time because here was someone who understood the concept of responding to customer’s inquiries. And, she was emphasizing a key point of what we teach all the time during customer service sessions. “Actively listen to the customer’s inquiry and don’t make any assumptions.”

Too often, customer service representatives receive the same types of inquiries day-in and day-out. So, it is very easy to “hear” the first part of the customer’s statement and forget to “listen” to the whole message before making a decision. This is why we get the “Please Hold” before we even finish talking.

This type of behavior definitely reduces customer satisfaction and impacts the whole experience with you or with your company. This reduction in satisfaction leads to higher emotions and more complaints. So, what is the best way to respond to ANY inquiry from ANY type of customer – external or internal?

1. When the customer is talking, actively listen and don’t assume anything. Ask questions to clarify the request and verify that you will be taking the right steps to respond. Let the customer finish talking before interjecting any sort of resolution. If you interject too soon, you may be giving the wrong answer or transferring to the wrong person.

2. If it is a complaint, allow the customer to express his or her true emotions, feelings, and concerns – don’t cut them off. I hear customer service people say that this “emotional information” is not important. It is absolutely important because if you don’t recognize the emotion, the emotion can escalate which makes it more difficult to respond to the inquiry.

3. After you understand the inquiry and provide an answer, always check back to make sure the customer is satisfied. Ask the customer if the inquiry has been answered properly. If the customer is not satisfied, have options ready.

When the inquiry is answered correctly the first time by one person, these three tips not only increase customer satisfaction, they improve time management and overall productivity in the business.