Hero Story - Business


Answer the Question the Right Way

Sometimes a customer asks a question, and then either doesn't understand or like the answer. And sometimes, it's more than just a misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication. Maybe it's because the employee doesn't want to take the time to answer the question correctly. Or sometimes employees are asked the same question so many times that they get sick and tired of customers asking, and it shows in the way they respond and act.

One of my favorite examples of this came from a Disney Institute class I attended several years ago. Our "teacher" told us that the No. 1 question guests asked the cast members—which is what employees are called at Disney—was, "Where is the bathroom?" The second most frequently asked question was, "What time does the 3 o'clock parade start?"

The bathroom one makes sense, but the parade question? Well, it turns out everyone knows what time the parade begins. But, what they really mean is what time does the parade pass by their current location. That said, the cast members are trained to enthusiastically answer either question as if it were the first time they ever were asked.

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Why didn't he say that in the first place?

What made me think of this was when Angelica, one of our team members at Shepard Presentations, shared a customer service story about why she chose one coffee shop over another, even though it was more expensive. It wasn't that the coffee was better. It was because the employees were better. Specifically, she chose not to go back to the less expensive shop because of the way an employee answered a question.

The menu said there were two types of cold brew, black and white. So, Angelica asked, "What's the difference between the black and white cold brew?"

The employee flippantly answered, "The color." Angelica then asked, "Does it taste different?"

The employee, who was obviously bored with the conversation, rolled his eyes and responded, "The black has no cream, and the white has cream."

Angelica thought, "Why didn't he say that in the first place?" Instead, he made her feel embarrassed for not knowing, and that's the last time she went to that coffee shop.

The lesson is simple and reminds me of what I share in our customer service workshops: "No question is a dumb question." Sometimes people don't know what we think they should know. It's OK. And no matter what question someone asks, we treat it as if it's one of the most important questions we have ever been asked. We want the answer to be the right answer, answered in the right way that imparts knowledge and understanding, and creates confidence in whoever asked the question.

So, the next time someone asks you a question you've been asked "a thousand times," answer it as if it's the first time you've ever been asked.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Shep Hyken.


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