Effective Questioning Techniques to Uncover Customer Needs on Retail Calls

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli February 27, 2024
Updated 2024/02/27 at 9:13 AM
Effective Questioning Techniques to Uncover Customer Needs on Retail Calls

Effective questioning techniques are vital to a successful customer service interaction. Getting customers to think more deeply about their issues can help you understand them better and provide a more effective solution.

Closed questions are short, restricted, and fact-based and are often used at the start or end of calls. Open questions are one of the questioning tips for effective retail phone calls on the other hand, it can be a great way to uncover more detail in the middle of a call.

Open Questions

Open questions, which start with words such as what, why, how, and describe, elicit answers from the customer that aren’t limited to yes or no options. They can be scary because they appear to hand the control baton over to the customer. Still, when framed correctly, they allow the customer to talk about their experience in their own words and provide valuable insights that may not be available otherwise.

Open questions can also uncover a wealth of information about the customer’s experiences, which can be used to improve your product or service. They can also allow you to build rapport with the customer and demonstrate a genuine interest in their concerns. However, open questions should be used sparingly to avoid overwhelming the respondent or being perceived as overly pushy.

Closed Questions

Closed questions invite short, one-word answers and are often used at the beginning or end of a customer service conversation. When used too often, they can disrupt the natural flow of a conversation and halt its progress. If you use closed questions, be sure to balance them with open ones to collect both specific and qualitative data.

This expert source explains the importance of questioning techniques and outlines the different types – open, probing, and leading – you can use. They also suggest an effective questioning framework for gathering customer needs. It’s based on sales, but it also applies to customer service.

Probing Questions

Probing questions encourages customers to share more detailed information about their issues. This allows agents to understand the underlying concerns of the customer, allowing them to address them effectively.

These questions also demonstrate to the customer that an agent truly wants to help. However, they must be delivered well to avoid sounding interrogative and unhelpful.

For example, if a customer calls with an error code, asking if they have tried to fix it as part of self-service could be a useful probe. This can help agents refocus the conversation towards a solution that is more likely to succeed.

Other probing questions, such as funneling questions, are designed to gradually narrow down information and focus on specific aspects of a problem. This can help agents understand the customer’s issue and improve First Contact Resolution rates.

Funnel Questions

When customers share core information on calls, such as the reason for their call or a problem, it can be helpful to delve into more detail with probing questions. These questions can help agents gain more insight into the customer’s needs and determine what steps to take to resolve the issue quickly.

Funnel questions can be asked as open questions, such as “Tell me more,” or closed questions, such as a yes/no question. The key is to ask questions and only relevant ones consistently. Jumping around to different topics or lines of questioning can confuse and irritate respondents. Using this questioning technique requires excellent customer service skills and active listening. This is a skill that can be learned and refined over time.

Leading Questions

Assumption-based leading questions put the questioner in a position to pressure respondents to agree with them. These types of questions may be hard to spot because they often look innocent enough.

Leading questions result from a combination of factors. The language used in a question, the answer that precedes it, and the order of the questions themselves all influence how respondents respond.

Direct implication leading questions ask respondents to consider the results of their possible reaction to something, linking past and future events in an inescapable chain of cause and effect. Generally, these types of leading questions should be avoided for experience-based surveys like customer effort score, NPS, and product feedback.

Share this Article