Answer The Questions Customers Don’t Know To Ask

flowers-bodyThis post originally appeared Shep Hyken’s blog. Click here to read the original.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, I stopped by the local grocery store, Fred Meyer, to pick up her favorite flowers: gerber daisies. They were actually the flowers we had at our wedding.

As I looked through the gerber daisies, I noticed that they had a wonderful selection that looked like they had just been cut. I selected two bunches, one red and one white. It was at that point that the nice lady in the flower area looked at them and said “Wow, those really are beautiful!”

She went on to talk about how Gerber Daisies in particular will tend to droop after a few days and how coiling a little piece of wire around the stem can prevent that and keep them looking fresh for longer. Then she said, “You know what? I’m going to give you a couple pieces of wire so when that happens, you’ll be able to wrap the stems.”

At the time I was grateful to her for taking the time to share that advice with me. Fast forward five days and a couple of the flowers finally drooped. I grabbed the wire, wrapped the stems, and sure enough, they still look great! Sure, cut flowers eventually get old and die but I sure was happy to be able to enjoy them for a bit longer.

This speaks to a value that really marks a great customer service professional. I often call thisempowerment where we take that little bit of extra time to educate the customer while we serve them. Another way to phrase this is: Answering the questions the customer didn’t even know to ask.

Think about that for a moment. If you work in technical support, perhaps customers need help connecting the product to the Internet. Take a few extra moments to highlight some resources they might want to refer to so they can use the product once it is connected to the Internet. Or perhaps you work in a restaurant where customers take orders to go. Take the extra few moments to offer cutlery, napkins or condiments to go with their meal.

As customer service professionals, we are the experts when it comes to our product or service. That’s not to say that customers aren’t or can’t be but after thousands of customer interactions, we get pretty good at understanding what customers need in order to have a great experience. Take the extra few moments to share your knowledge and expertise with them.

In the case of my flowers, the lady sharing her wisdom with me made a huge difference in my experience. In many cases, answering the questions the customer didn’t know to ask prevents the aggravation of having to contact support again. In all cases, it significantly increases the value of our product or service we provide.


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  • Thank you for this reminder, Jeremy — I’ll be training a class of Travel Counselors in a few days, and will share this philosophy with them. That extra tidbit of good advice can be the most memorable part of the interaction, and may be the thing that customer shares with others. Excellent reminder to be fully present at all times!

    • Hi Andrea, I’m so glad that this advice helped. If you get a chance, send me a note and let me know how your training class goes!


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