Written by [] on 26 June 2018

The average four-year-old asks between 300 and 400 questions a day. That’s how they learn about the world around them. And while asking your customers and clients 300 or more questions is not a great idea, there is value in asking questions. Especially when it comes to customer engagement and retention.

Why you should be asking questions

There are plenty of good reasons for asking your clients and customers questions.

  • Because you don’t know what you don’t know. For example, only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers actually make complaints; the rest simply take their business elsewhere. How will you know that a customer is disgruntled if they don’t complain, and you don’t ask?
  • Quantitative data isn’t everything. You can track all the right KPIs, collect Net Promoter Scores and analyse all your sales and marketing data in a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365, and you still won’t have the full picture. You need to ask questions so you really know how your customers are feeling, and what they’re thinking.
  • Customers appreciate being listened to. By asking questions, you’re showing your clients and customers that you value their perspective and take their feedback to heart. That’s how you build trust in your customer relationships.When it comes to customer engagement, indifference and over-reliance on quantitative data are your biggest enemies. You need to ask questions so that you can learn from your customers and tailor your products or services to their needs and wants.

10 questions you should be asking your customers if you want to improve engagement and retention

Here are 10 questions that will help you better understand your clients and customers. Whether you’re looking to tailor a product or service, improve your sales processes with software like Dynamics 365, or just get some feedback, you need to ask these questions.

1. When it comes to X, what is the biggest challenge, frustration, obstacle, or hurdle you run into?

This is the question that Ryan Levesque, bestselling author of Ask, states is the single most important question to ask customers. It’s open-ended, but structured enough to help your customer answer effectively.

When asking this question, ‘X’ stands for the product or service you can help them with. For example: what’s the single biggest challenge or frustration you have with your current IT provider?

2. Is there a recent example where we have met (or fallen short) of your expectations?

This is a great way to ask for feedback in a way that will yield actionable insight. Asking a pointed question like this, with reference to a timeframe, is much better than simply asking how you’re doing as a company or if there’s any feedback.

Better yet, you can ask this question without lifting a finger. Email automation tools in Dynamics 365 let you build an email template and schedule when and who you want to send it to. Perhaps you ask this question every six months, for example. Instead of reminding yourself to send an email, schedule it in so it’s ready to go automatically.

3. What’s a recent example of something we’ve done well?

If you’re going to ask what’s gone wrong, you can also ask what’s gone right. The Harvard Business review calls this ‘positive surveying.’ By getting your customer to focus on something you’ve done right or succeeded in, you’re learning valuable information about the products, services and people who are doing well in your organisation.

4. What are some ways in which we could make our product or service easier to use?

Researchers know that “when it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.” By asking your customer what you can do to make things easier, you’re letting them know that you’re invested in their success. And you get some helpful suggestions as an added bonus!

5. What’s a current or upcoming challenge that I can help with?

As a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting one issue resolved and then having to bring up another one later. Indeed, the Harvard Business Review found that 22 percent of repeat calls to customer service centers ‘involve downstream issues related to the problem that prompted the original call.’

By getting ahead of challenges and asking what else you can help with, you’re saving your customers (and yourself) time and energy.

6. If we changed X by Y, do you think it would be better or more useful for you?

Julie Wittes Schlack believes that we should ask customers for predictions, not preferences. Anyone can rate or give an opinion on something, but only customers who use your product or service can predict how changes to it will impact them.

In this case, ‘X’ is your product or service and ‘Y’ is the change you’re making to it. For example, you can ask: if we changed our monthly reports by turning them into Power BI dashboards, do you think it would be better or more useful for you?

7. What is the one thing that we should never stop doing?

While it’s good to maintain a focus on growth and change, it’s also important to know if there are aspects of your product or service that customers really love or rely on. Imagine changing your website or your service, only to find that it’s outraged your entire customer base.

If you’re using a CRM like Dynamics 365, for example, imagine what would happen if you could no longer automate your social media? This is a core component of building a strong brand presence online. Without it, you’d likely look elsewhere.

8. Who can we learn from to improve our product or service delivery?

This is a bit of an odd question to ask, but it will help you understand a few things. For example:

  • Other brands, companies or competitors that your customers are comparing you to;
  • The category and market that your customers see you in (which may be different to your own idea of market fit); and
  • Who your customers are looking at for similar products and services.

Keeping the question structured with a goal (improving your product or service) will help your customer answer effectively. It will also demonstrate your willingness to engage with their feedback and improve your offering.

9. How do you know if you’ve had a successful year/month/day?

This is a great question to ask if you’d like to learn more about a customer’s goals and aspirations. If you know what success looks like in their eyes, you can tailor your product or service to fit.

10. What’s a question you’ve been meaning to ask us?

Sometimes, the best way to get information out of someone is to shut up and listen. By asking this question (and not ‘do you have any questions for us?’ which is too open-ended) you’re telling your customer that you know you’ve got more to learn, and you’re ready to listen.

Develop your own Socratic method

Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn anything – especially when it comes to customer engagement and retention. Start with these 10 questions and you’ll discover other important questions to ask along the way and how you can help customers tailor their CRM for ultimate effectiveness.

Just remember: to get the right information, you need to ask the right questions.

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