People ask questions because they want to learn, they want to better understand someone or something. In business, we want to learn more about our customers, and understand their needs, so we can serve them better. Business owners often use surveys or questionnaires, which can prove helpful, but there are times in which you simply need to dig deeper.
In our business, where we sell and install products in customer’s homes, we often need to dig a little deeper. No, we won’t ask to see your tax return, but without prying, we want to know more about your replacement window needs. Often a few simple questions, within a conversation, give us a “window” into what’s going on in the life of a customer (pun intended). Why new windows? Why now? What problems have been keeping you up at night? Is it too warm in the summers? Too cold in the winters? Both? What about the noise factor? We meet people who are looking for a quick fix while others are seeking a long-term solution. The best approach, however, is not to fire questions, but to present them in the context of better understanding their situation. The last thing we want to do is drill someone under the hot lights of a police investigation. Not our style.
There are also occasions where you’ll get answers without asking many questions (or none at all). The noise outside of one homeowner’s house answered the question before she even explained why she needed double paned windows. In some cases people are reticent about telling us that they are on a tight budget, but we can often discern such a situation as we get to know them better – and since many of us our watching our spending closely these days, we clearly “get it.” We’ve also had customers who are moving and looking to upgrade their homes before selling. They sometimes think we’ll be insulted that they won’t be using our windows for very long. But, we recognize that improving a home brings up the value, so we’re happy to help.
Albert Einstein once defined the value of asking the right question. “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
The right question(s) can mean so much in business, or personal, relationships. Not only do questions open the door to knowledge but they also minimize errors or misunderstandings created by making assumptions. The answers you receive can allow you to solve a problem or present appropriate suggestions without guesswork.
And don’t forget that knowing how to ask a question will help you win at Jeopardy.
For us, the right question, or questions, helps us make our customers happy…and that should be your goal in any business…happy customers.