Operator woman talking on headset at work

Questions are a double-edged sword for customer service professionals. We have to ask questions to get to the root of the problem, completely log issues, and in general, to help customers.

But very often a series of questions can sound like an interview. If we’re not careful, a series of questions can come across as an interrogation.

Years ago, when I managed a small contact center, I realized that my team had to ask our customers 7 questions to completely log issues in our system. Seven questions is a lot.

Through call monitoring, I discovered that our customers were annoyed with our questioning. And it honestly sounded to me like we were interrogating our customers with our line of questioning!

So I began instructing my team to bridge to questioning and not directly jump into our litany of questions. Here’s what I taught them.

1. Bridge Into Questioning

We can buffer the questions we must ask by simply bridging to questioning.  That is, make a statement to explain your series of questions before you launch the questions. Here are some good bridge statements:

  • “In order to determine what happened, I will need to ask you some questions.”
  • “Do you mind if I ask you some questions so we can figure out what has happened?”
  • “So I can assist you, may I ask you a few questions?”

These bridge statements make questioning a little easier on your customer.

2. Be sure to use please and thank you in your questioning

For example:

  •  “May I have your zip code please?”
  • Thanks. I have one final question.”

You have to ask questions. Improve your overall customer experience by bridging to questioning and by using and please and thank you. When you do, your questioning won’t come across as an interview, or an interrogation and your customers will feel better about the interaction.