CoachingI don’t know? No way!
I don't know blog

I don’t know? No way!

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?


Kevin James is one of the expert trainers at Oculus with over 20 years of experience and thousands of sessions under his belt.

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