Shep Hyken

By Shep Hyken

Customers Ask Questions. Make Sure You Have the Answers!

Customers Ask Questions. Make Sure You Have the Answers! 150 150 Shep Hyken

There are some experiences in life you just never forget. Having dinner with my good friends Kim Tucci and the late John Ferrara is one of those experiences. This was over 30 years ago. But like I said, some things you just never forget.

We were in Phoenix, Arizona and this dining establishment was a very nice one. John’s son Ben was with us. At the time, he was only 12 years old. When the server came along to take our drink order, we were curious to know what the daily specials were. When he mentioned a seafood dish, my friend Kim asked, “Is the fish fresh?”

This is the part that has stuck with me after all these years. He told her, “The fish is so fresh it hasn’t even thawed out.”

He was saying two different things, and I was a bit lost. The fish was fresh. But it was also still frozen? What could he possibly have meant? I wasn’t the only one who thought this was odd. Ben, although just 12 years old, was also looking at the server in complete confusion. It turned out that when he said fresh, he was simply implying that the fish hadn’t come from a freezer aisle in a grocery store.

In this case, our server gave the wrong answer to the question. That is the whole point. In every business, there are simple questions that customers are going to ask over and over again. Great employees will know the answers to these questions, because great employers will train them to.

Think about your business and your industry. What are the common questions that get asked time and time again? In a restaurant, a few of them might be about pricing, ingredients in the dishes, side items offered, or substitutions. As a frequent restaurant patron, here are some of the top questions that I regularly ask:

  • What’s the soup of the day?
  • Does this entrée come with a salad or side dish?
  • How is the fish prepared?

That first question, the one about the soup of the day, is one that always puzzles me. It’s amazing to me (in a bad way) how often the server doesn’t know the answer to this. Their response is almost always, “Let me go back to the kitchen and ask the chef.” What blows my mind is how could they not know? What’s just as bad is, how could the manager have someone on the floor who doesn’t know the answers to these simple questions.

So, here is a little homework. There are three main steps to the assignment:

  1. Come up with the top three questions your customers ask your employees.
  2. Create the best responses.
  3. Train your people to know the correct answers.

Once this is done, everyone in your company should be able to answer these questions, from the newest hire to the person who has been there the longest, from the lowest paid employee to the highest paid. Once all of your employees know the answer to these questions, train them on three more. Continually do this, as often as you see fit.

When your customers realize that your employees have the answers to their frequently asked questions, this will instill trust in your company. Trust turns into loyalty to your business.

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