ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Curiosity Makes a Better CX
By Shep Hyken
Monday, 23rd October 2023

'Curiosity killed the cat' and according to Wikipedia, this saying first appeared in a 1598 play, Every Man in His Humour, by English playwright Ben Johnson.

The following year, Shakespeare used a similar quote in Much Ado About Nothing. The intent behind this saying is “to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation. …” In other words, be careful pushing for more information. Knowing more is not always best.

That may be the case for the cat, but it’s not so in the world of customer service. A good customer service rep, salesperson, or anyone interacting with a customer should be curious. And that kind of curiosity shows up in the questions they ask.

Here’s another quote for you to ponder, and this one is from Dan Sullivan, founder of the Strategic Coach program. He says, “In a world where everyone is vying to be the most interesting, be the one who is most interested.” In other words, be curious. Sullivan says to ask genuine questions, actively listen, and take the opportunity to get to know clients and customers anytime you have contact with them.

The idea of curiosity in customer service is simple. Ask more questions. Once you understand what the customer is asking for or what the underlying issue is, ask more questions for the purpose of clarity and understanding.

Certain types of questions are better than others. For example, open-ended questions allow you to gather more information. An example would be, “Can you please tell me what was happening right before the problem began?”  A follow-up question such as, “Can you elaborate on that?” shows you’re actively listening.

You may even let the customer know you’re taking notes. But be careful about asking too many “closed-ended questions.” These are questions that require simple yes or no responses. You don’t need to avoid them altogether, but too many yes/no questions could make a customer feel like they are in a courtroom being cross-examined by an unfriendly attorney.

Your goal is to grasp what the customer needs, and asking the right questions shows you are interested in helping the customer. It also demonstrates empathy, as the right questions show you are taking the time to understand the customer. And the right questions build trust. They help make the customer feel as if they are valued and heard.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it will give life to your customer relationships!

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at www.Hyken.com. Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.


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