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Power Bite: Asking Your Customers the Right Questions

Oct 12, 2022 | 4m


Asking Your Customers the Right Questions

When you’re speaking to a customer, you should have a clear mindset of not wasting their time and reducing their effort. Customers call in because they have an issue they need help resolving, and you should ask questions that help you get to the root of the problem in the shortest amount of time.

DON’T Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions give the customer the opportunity to talk on and on. For example, avoid saying “Could you tell me what your issue is?” This way, it seems as though you need their guidance or input, which might make them feel like you’re not competent. You want to be the expert who is guiding them, not the other way around.

DO Ask Yes/No or Informative Questions

Focus on questions that can be answered with one or a few words. Pull up their customer history, and ask for only the information you need to solve their issue. A customer shouldn’t have to repeat their issue each time they call your helpline, so look at previous notes your colleagues may have made. Be polite, and phrase your sentences carefully. Note the difference between “What’s your address? I can’t see it on my system,” and “Could you tell me your apartment number so I can support you better?” The latter comes across as more professional and helpful.

DON’T Blame the Customer

Let’s say the customer is facing an issue because they’re added the wrong address. Don’t call that out right away. Doing that will put them in a corner and make them angry. You should focus not on their mistakes, but on how you can support them.

DO Have a Solution Focused Mindset

Solve the issue first, and then towards the end of the conversation, politely educate them on what they did wrong. You could say “By the way, next time please remember to add the correct street address to avoid disturbances.”

DON’T Ask Back-to-Back Questions

This will only drag the conversation and frustrate the customer. I always recommend sticking to a maximum of four questions per conversation, and spacing these out across the call.

DO Be Tactful

If the customer has provided incomplete information in response to your question, don’t ask for clarification directly. Instead, focus on the fact that you need that information to support them effectively. You could say “I think I need your apartment number so I can assist you better.”

DON’T Ignore Tone

As the customer you’re speaking to cannot see you, your tone communicates a lot. Make sure you’re keeping your voice calm and gentle so that the customer understands that you’re here to help.

DO Document What Works

Make a habit of writing down questions that have helped you solve a customer’s issue in the shortest time. Write down the question, and the scenario in which it was effective. Effective questions are those that customers can answer very briefly, but give you the valuable information you need. Similarly, take a note of questions that weren’t effective – that didn’t help you get to a solution quickly. Over time, you’ll build a bank of great questions and questions to avoid for different scenarios, so every call will be optimized for minimum customer effort.

DO Know When Not to Ask Questions

If you’re a Customer Service Manager, and a call has been escalated to you, you shouldn’t be asking questions. Pull up all the information on the customer and their history. Check how many associates they’ve spoken to, what actions were taken, and what exceptions you can provide. When you introduce yourself to the customer, mention your title and give them a summary of their experience with your organization so far based on the information you have. Mention small details. This will make it seem like you really do care.

The conversation might go like this: “Hi (first name), I’m (your full name), Customer Service Manager at (company). I see that your issue is X. My team took 1, 2, 3 actions, but it seems your issue wasn’t resolved. I will provide an exceptional solution 1, 2, 3 for you.” At no point have you asked the customer a question. They’re listening to you, and trust that you will solve the issue. This is powerful.

DON’T Abruptly End the Call

Whether you’re an associate or a manager, never end the call abruptly. You are losing the opportunity to delight the customer who called in.

DO Let Them Know You’re Here to Help

End the call with a question “Can I assist you with anything else?” Note, it’s a yes/no question, but it shows the customer that you’re willing and eager to help them with anything else they need.

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Mohamed Mesbah

Customer Service Manager




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