Responding to customer inquiries with more than a "I don’t know!"

I don’t know when this started but at some point, a lot of customer service reps started to think that we have to know just about everything there is to know in a customer service setting.  I get it, we want to ensure that we have all the right answers. We want to be able to provide the best possible service that we can provide. We want to be able to quickly provide solutions and avoid line-ups and the like.  All good reasons to know your job, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have all the answers when responding to customer inquiries.

Not knowing everything is not a bad thing.  I mean, there is only so much room in your brain for some of the facts that you have to know.  Additionally, sometimes you get approached with a question that you just haven’t been exposed to in the past.  It is okay not to have the answer and it is okay to take the time to find it.

It is okay not to have the answer and it is okay to take the time to find it.

This doesn’t mean that you have to say “I don’t know”. In a sense this might be true, but when you work in customer service, the “I”, is more of a “We”. You have a whole team of people that you can use for resources and you can probably bet that one of those individuals will have the answer for you.  So instead of saying I don’t know, let’s think of some alternative ways to let your customers know that you are going to help them, but it is just going to take a few minutes. 

Maybe some of these phrases would work instead of the “I don’t know”:

"That is a great question. Let me check on that."
"I think Sally would know the answer to that. Let me ask!"
"That is going to involve some research! Let me get back to you in 10 minutes."
"What would be a good number to reach you on when I have the answer to that?"

All of these statements showcases your professionalism and that you know WHERE to get the right answer and that you will take responsibility to finding the answer to their queries. If I were a customer, I would appreciate the fact that someone was willing to spend time finding the right best answer rather than finding the quick answer.

So, the next time you don’t know what to do when responding to customer inquiries, I want you to think again. You do know WHAT to do, you just need some time. It’s that simple.

Need some help with your customer service training?

Meet the trainer!

Allow us to introduce you to the team member whose experience knowledge went into this post

Kevin James
Kevin James
Kevin James Saunders is one of the expert trainers with over 20 years of experience and thousands of sessions under his belt at Oculus Training, a boutique corporate learning company based in Vancouver, Canada. We don't have titles around here, but, he’s the one of the bosses! After “slaving away” for a large training firm, Kevin James felt he just wasn’t having any fun! The content he was required to deliver was like old stale bread; bland and unfulfilling. As the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it differently. So, in 2007, Oculus was born and KJ was on board with this exciting new venture. Yipee! Although he has been known to tell a joke or two...or three, he is not just about a fun time. There is more to this man! He did fill his head with some scholarly tidbits from the College Saint-Charles-Garnier, Memorial University and the University of Quebec. If that wasn’t enough, he continued to grow his brain by finishing his Masters Degree in Organizational Change & Development in the United Kingdom. KJ knew that your book-smarts only benefit you when put into practice! That is why he gained practical work experience in Human Resources, Marketing, Hotel Sales, and Operations. Nifty! We wouldn’t want to brag too much, but he has worked with such companies as Mercedes-Benz, DevSisters, USA Today, Moody-Nolan, Signature Worldwide, and Pan Pacific Hotels. Let’s not forget Fairmont Hotels, SPCA, Atlific, LeadPages, Marriott Hotels, ADT, Security and , to name a few. Plus, he has conducted and helped design thousands of training sessions throughout his career. (That does sound like bragging, doesn’t it?) He currently resides in Sevilla; when he is not out galavanting around the world.If you can pin him down, tell us how that happens! He never shows up for dinner!

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