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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #423: What You Don’t Know

What do you do when you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question?

Customer service is a tough job. Dealing with questions, complaints, and problems drains even the hardiest of workers.

But not knowing the products or services the company sells not only reflects poorly on a customer service rep, but it also reflects incredibly poorly on the company.

Case in point: my friend saw an ad for a modular sofa in the flyer of one of the big warehouses. Wanting more information, she sought out the manufacturer’s website. Not finding the answers, she used the online contact form to ask her questions—how are the sections hooked together, and are the cushions on the softer or firmer side?

She submitted her questions one evening and received a reply by 10:30 the next morning. It said, “Thank you for your interest in (company name). The couch connects with rubber band clips and I am not sure what if they are soft or firm as I have not had a chance to see this item.”

While the promptness of the customer care rep’s response is admirable, the lack of knowledge about the product is far from it, especially when you consider that this particular furniture company sells only four different items.

How can you be sure your customer service reps have the information they need to better answer customer inquiries and represent the company? Give them what they need to succeed:

· The facts. They can’t share what they don’t know. Provide them with detailed data sheets, descriptive copy, customer-friendly videos, and practical photos. Regularly discuss customer reviews and feedback. Arm them with the information they need to address just about any customer inquiry imaginable.

· The experience. There’s no better way to truly know the colors, textures, comfort, and style of a piece of furniture than actually seeing it in person. I’m sure more than one of us has had our hearts set on an item only to be surprised and disappointed when presented with the real thing. If possible, let your reps use your products or experience your services. They’ll be wiser, more enthusiastic representatives as a result.

· Your time. My friend didn’t fault her customer care rep for not knowing the answer to her second question, but she did fault him (her?) for not taking the time to find someone who did. Encourage your customer service reps to ask questions, and encourage your teams—marketing, accounting, development, etc.—to be available to answer them.

With so much riding on the outcome of customer interactions—by phone, email, social media, online, and in person—by so many people—sales reps, customer service reps, vendors, retail agents, etc.—keeping everyone informed can mean the difference between a good customer experience and one that ends in frustration.

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