Have you ever browsed a catalog or a website and had a basic, maybe frivolous question about an item?  Did you call customer service for assistance or did you try to come up with the answer on your own?  Chances are, you did the latter, and your customers may be as well.  But being a company that welcomes these little questions and builds a reputation upon answering them can greatly impact our relationships with our customers.

Melissa had been searching for a gift for her husband.  She decided

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Photo by Steven Depolo

to buy him a tie for his favorite suit and had exactly the shade of blue she needed worked out in her mind.  Browsing the website of a small purveyor of fine silk ties, she found a few she liked, but wasn’t sure she could tell which would be the right tone of blue.  “Their website had a banner that said no question was too small, their customer service was there to happily help, so I decided to call in with my crazy questions about what tone of blue each tie had in it.”  While Melissa expected the representative she spoke with to look at the pictures from their website or maybe consult a more detailed product sheet, what she got was something quite different.  “The man I spoke to asked to put me on hold while he went and pulled the three ties I was considering.  Then he started pulling up images of the various examples I was giving him (I wanted a blue like a certain paint color, not like the Ikea sign).  I was first shocked that they actually had all the ties right there to look at since they don’t have a retail shop, and then even happier when he was enthusiastic about comparing the colors for me.  He never made me feel like it was an inconvenience to get me the right answer….  I bought the perfect tie and I really couldn’t have done it without that help.”

Setting up the customer to expect friendly, helpful service with all their needs enabled this company to really shine.   Setting up the customer service representative with access to the products he provides support for enabled him to tailor his service for this customer’s exact needs.  Little questions are often just as important as big ones in shaping the customer’s experience and opinion of our companies, so let’s proactively invite them to ask questions and make sure that we prepare ourselves to be able to answer them.