My assistant shared a story with me recently that reminded me how important it is to ask the right questions.
Her son had just turned 14 and was anxious to get his working papers. She had heard through the usually reliable mom-network that even though school was out for the year, the high school guidance office was the place to get working papers. Upon entering the high school, she and her son proceeded to the General Office and asked where the Guidance Office was. The secretary pointed to the sign in the hallway with a directional arrow. They then proceeded in the direction of the arrow but found the District Office and not the Guidance Office. They entered the District Office and proceeded to ask the secretary where the Guidance Office was. A helpful janitor smiled and offered to show the way, explaining that the directional arrow was misleading and the hallway to the Guidance Office was dimly lit.
Having found the Guidance Office at last, the son told the counselor that he was there to get his working papers. The counselor then advised “Oh, you no longer get those here. You can get them in the General Office where you first came into the school”. So the tour of the high school offices could have ended where it started, had my assistant simply asked, “Where can my son get his working papers?”
How often do we go through life getting frustrated with the outcome or response from a person because it wasn’t what we expected or wanted? In customer service and sales, asking the right questions is critical in order to provide the right solutions, product or services to clients.
Taking time and planning out a list of questions can help uncover a customer’s pain point, what is most important for their decision-making process and their overall goals. Asking a blend of simple questions can help you discover their needs and provide the best solutions to exceed their expectations:
- What can I do for you? Describe to me what you need.
- What is most important to you? What are the outcomes you are expecting?
- What is your budget? Why do you need this product or service?
It all comes down to the simple ask—getting the right information so you can provide the right solution every single time!