What questions should you be asking your customers right now?

You’re an extraordinary person. I’m not just saying that to make you feel good about yourself. I’m telling you’re extraordinary because, well, you are. 

You’ve lived through a pandemic, my friend. 

Not only that, but you’re still in business during a pandemic. And now you’re using time in your busy day to read an article about how to make your customers’ lives easier. Take a moment to recognize your remarkable grit, strength, and empathy. 

Go ahead—pat yourself on the back.

Literally! I’ll do it with you. 

Ready?

Pat. Pat. Pat.

How does it feel to appreciate yourself? Maybe it feels weird, but I hope it’s at least a little comforting, too. 

The truth is that many of us are feeling underappreciated, exhausted, and monumentally stressed right now. We’re all in need of some TLC (and I don’t mean this TLC, although they certainly can’t hurt). That includes your customers.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your customers.

Like you, your customers could use extra care right now. They’re scared, they’re frustrated, and they’re looking to businesses like yours for help, reassurance, and guidance during these challenging times. 

One of the most meaningful and direct ways to show kindness and step up for others is through your customer service interactions. The words your team uses over the phone and in chat conversations can inform and empower the people you serve. This is a core pillar of the Ruby Service Pyramid—we call it “giving people what they don’t even know they want.” 

For more about the Ruby Service Pyramid and how it can supercharge your customer service, read our blog post.

I’m talking about questions that delve into people’s levels of COVID-19 anxiety and awareness, questions that help you gauge each person’s sensitivity to public health concerns and other external pressures. These kinds of questions serve multiple purposes:

They help customers feel confident and secure in your business.

They establish the right expectations at the outset.

They equip customers with the information they need to keep themselves and others safe.

By anticipating customers’ needs and allaying their worries proactively, you’ll avoid potentially awkward, irritating, or even dangerous interactions later on. You’ll also give them the space and encouragement to ask proactive questions themselves. 

9 customer service questions to ask.

Here are nine examples of the kinds of questions customer service professionals should be asking customers right now.

1. “How are you?” 

This basic, open-ended question sets the stage for the entire customer service experience. It tells you what emotions the customer is feeling, where the customer’s priorities lie, and how receptive the customer is to a genuine conversation. It also starts the exchange off on an empathetic note—you’re centering their feelings and their needs.

2. “What can we do for you today?”

Another simple-seeming question that uncovers a world of potential emotions, expectations, and preferences. This is an opportunity to truly listen to the customer and hear both what they’re saying and what they might be hesitant to say.

3. “Were you able to find all the information you needed before contacting us?”

Here, again, we have an opportunity to learn about and listen to the customer. Perhaps they have uncertainties they wouldn’t be willing to share or know how to express without prompting. A well-trained customer service professional is able to gently guide the conversation and unearth hidden concerns.

Another way to frame this question is “Are there any immediate questions you have before we begin?”

4. “Are you or is someone you live with immunocompromised?” 

This sounds like a direct question, but it can reveal a lot about a person’s perspective and mindset. Perhaps the customer isn’t aware of what “immunocompromised” means or why it matters, or isn’t sure what qualifies. In that case, the customer service professional can offer clarification—e.g. “I’m asking because we want to make sure we’re not putting anyone at risk…”

5. “Would you like more information about our health and safety procedures?”

Keep in mind that many customers aren’t aware of the ins and outs of public health guidance, or the precautions various businesses are taking. They may not care—and that’s fine—but it’s important that you offer the information to those who do want to know.

6. “Do you have any additional health or safety concerns we should be aware of?”

This is another question that demonstrates empathy and allows you to tailor the experience to each individual’s needs. Maybe a customer is allergic or sensitive to certain cleaning chemicals, or maybe they follow specific precautions when entering and leaving their home that they’d like others to know. In any case, you’re showing respect for the person and their personal health and safety.

7. “Does our current timeline work for you?”

Many businesses are spread thin right now. If you’re operating with fewer employees or resources than you were last year, you may not be able to get things done as quickly as before—and your customers should be aware of that.

Whenever possible, provide customers with precise times and dates for visits, installations, deliveries, completion of projects, and so forth. But if you can only give a window, make sure your customers are aware of that and understand why. Delays and missed appointments tend not to happen when businesses offer specific, realistic information.

8. “Are you aware of our pricing and payment options?”

Remember that your customers are probably spread thin as well. Given the current unemployment rate, many individuals and families are struggling financially or experiencing financial instability.

Rather than waiting until billing to learn whether a customer is able to pay, open the conversation in a friendly, compassionate way early on. Show your customers that you’re aware of the potential economic strain they’re under, and that you want to make sure the business arrangement works for them.

9. “Would you like to share any feedback with us about your experience today?”

Finally, invite your customers to tell you how they feel about their exchanges over the phone or via chat. If you understand what you’re doing well and what you can improve on, you’ll know what questions to ask in the future and ultimately better serve your customers.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions you can ask to keep your customers happy, healthy, and safe. For more ideas on optimizing your customers’ experiences, use our customer service audit checklist.

Ask the right questions every time with Ruby.

As an extraordinary business owner, you deserve an extraordinary live receptionist and chat service. 

When you use Ruby, you ensure every customer talks to a friendly, expert customer service professional trained to capably represent your business. It’s all remote and available when you need it.

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