How to: answer your customers’ questions

This article came from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, written by Steve W. Martin. If you’d like to read the full article, view it here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/06/handling_customers_toughest_qu.html

Here’s a brief recap:

Clarify the question first. Make sure you know what the customer is asking before you respond. The easiest way to do this is to just repeat the question back to the customer to make sure you’re understanding them correctly.

Make sure everyone understands. Remember who are you are talking to: your customer. Not your co-worker or superior, so make sure you’re not using “industry terms” that may be difficult to understand.

Provide an expert point of view. “Never forget, your customer would rather do business with a trusted consultant who has intimate knowledge of the industry than an ordinary salesperson who simply understands how the product works.”

Redirect inane and unfair questions. “Don’t get flustered when you are asked an inappropriate question. Simply redirect the question by saying something like, ‘The question you really should be asking is … ‘ ”

Respond with metaphors. “The most important metaphors are examples about the customers that are successfully using your products and services.” It makes you and your company easier to relate to when your customers hear “success stories” of other customers.

Demeanor speaks volumes. Remain calm and collected, no matter how difficult the person may be. If you are unable to answer the customers’ questions to their satisfaction- see if you can find someone else to help them.