Asking the Wrong Question

“How was everything?” is a bad question.

How many times have you been asked this question after a service interaction?  Probably hundreds. It’s a standard and expected question in the service industry however, the answer often yields little value to the person or company asking the question.

“Fine” is the easy answer. This is what most customers are going to say and this answer does not provide any insight into the service experience or tell you anything about what you’re doing right, or wrong, as a business. Unless a customer had an especially good, or especially bad, experience, “Fine” is the answer that avoids any future conversations or awkwardness, and most quickly brings the conversation to a close. To get meaningful answers that make a difference to your business, you have to ask better questions. Here are a couple examples that you can use to conduct more effective service reviews:

“What did you think about _______?” Personalize this questions to each customer and their particular service. Note that this is an open-ended question that requires more than a one-word response. If you phrase the question this way, the customer is more likely to tell you what they specifically liked, or more importantly, didn’t like, about it. “It was great” or “Well it was good, but could have been better if you did ______” are both better answers that provide insights into the customer’s level of satisfaction and give you clues as to what improvements can be made for the next customer.

“What could we have done to improve your experience?” Again, this is an open-ended question and it also asks the customer to think about the entire service interaction. This question can help you gain insight into what your customer think of the whole service process – not just the final outcome. Without this question, you may be getting too granular and you’re only giving the customer the opportunity to tell you about one specific part of their service journey.

Customer service improvements can only be made if you are genuinely interested in finding out how you can improve. And to find out how, you have to ask the right questions. Simply asking “How was everything?” rarely generates actionable information. To refine and improve your service, you’ll need to ask the right questions and make sure the responses are more than “Fine”.

Rodney Steele