Companies that deliver great customer service Ask Affirming Questions. If you ever want to read a really good book someday read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It’s an old book but a very relevant book today. In his book Maltz teaches us that our bodies are designed to look for the answers. That there is something in us that drives us to look for answers. Some may say it’s God, some may say it’s DNA but, Maltz calls it the ‘servo-mechanism.’ He says our bodies are designed to look for the answer to the questions we ask it. The problem is that we ask it bad questions.
Think about this, maybe you’ve done this, I know I have. You’re sitting at your kitchen table and you have all those bills spread out in front of you. Maybe you’re paying by phone, maybe online or maybe the old fashion way, you’re writing out a check. And when you’re done you look into the registry and see there’s still some month left at the end of the money! And you ask yourself that very bad question, “Why am I always in debt?” Or, “Why can’t I get ahead?” Or, “Why do I live check to check?”
Our bodies are designed to look for the answers. So, when you ask a question like, “”Why can’t I get out of debt?” Your mind is answering, “Well, your credit cards are maxed out, you only pay the minimum, and everyday on your way to work, you stop and buy a $6.00 latte.
When you ask yourself, “Why am I so fat?” Your mind answers, “Well, because I’m like the average American, and sit around everyday watching four hours of television eating cheese puffs.”
Here’s your hint, most affirming questions start out with, “How can I” or “What can I.” So it’s not, “Why am I so fat?” it’s “How can I lead a healthy lifestyle?” Or, “How can I eat right everyday?”
The rephrasing leads to reframing in our minds. We begin to look for solutions instead of looking at the problem.
Companies that deliver great customer service are continually asking their customers, “How can we help?” “What can we do for you?” “How can we do better?”
Companies that deliver poor service ask the upset customer questions like, “What’s wrong?” Or, “What’s the problem?” If you ask an upset customer, “What’s the problem?” what are you going to hear? But if you ask, “How can I help?” what are you going to hear?
You see, sixty percent of the public will terminate a relationship with a company based on a bad customer service experience. And the problem is they don’t tell us, they just leave. Developing the skill to ask affirming questions in your marketing pieces, in your frontline employees, and in your customer surveys will keep the customer close and communicating.
I believe the next big wave in customer service will be, making it easy for customers to complain. If we can get the customer talking to us we build better, more profitable, relationships. And the way to get them communicating is by asking affirming questions.
The first step in developing this skill is to start observing the kinds of questions you are asking. Listen to the quality of questions you are asking yourself and listen to the people around you. Make sure you’re all asking affirming questions that look for solutions. Remember, it’s not, “What’s the problem?” it’s “How can I help?”
Then, through effective coaching, get everyone practicing this powerful tool.