The way you interact with potential clients impacts the entire customer journey. As a client service representative, you’re more than client support. You’re also tasked with building the foundation for a strong working relationship. This is why you need to understand the 10 questions every client service representative should ask.
Not only does this identify early on if the client is the right fit for you, but it makes sure you’re both on the same page. If you have strong brand values, goals, and clear audience profiles, it’s easier to navigate these conversations. The right questions identify objectives, plans, and expectations. They also are a chance to learn how you can improve and build on real-world feedback.
However, it’s not enough to ask questions as they randomly come to you. Empowering your client service team as well as the entire organization with the right questions increases your chances of success. Communication is the most important part of any business interaction, and it can’t be an afterthought. Keep reading to learn the 10 questions every client service representative should ask.
- 1. What are your objectives?
- 2. Why is now the right time to hire?
- 3. What’s your budget?
- 4. What have your past experiences with competitors been like?
- 5. What other providers did you look at?
- 6. Where did you hear about us?
- 7. How do you prefer to communicate?
- 8. What concerns do you have?
- 9. How likely are you to recommend us?
- 10. How can we improve?
1. What are your objectives?
To begin, objectives set the stage. If you don’t know what your prospective client is looking for, you’ll never get them there. How do they define success? What are they most focused on? For example, if you’re running a marketing agency, your clients might be focused on driving traffic, increasing conversions, or brand awareness. On the other hand, if you’re a real estate agent helping someone find a home, discover what they’re looking for.
To put it another way, don’t assume you know exactly what your clients want without asking them. When you define goals and objectives, it’s easier to see what success looks like to them. From there, you can align your own metrics with those of your clients. By taking a client-first approach, you focus on their values and how to best serve them.
2. Why is now the right time to hire?
Next, why is it that they’re hiring someone right now? If you’re working with a company, you’ll want to know why they opted to hire you vs. hiring internally. If you’re working with an individual, why are they choosing now to reach out? This question might sound simple, but it’s a chance to get a lot of insight.
One way to think of this is as a way to uncover your client’s motivation. Perhaps their business is growing too rapidly and they need to outsource quickly. Or maybe they’re facing a major life change (marriage, divorce, children, etc.) that’s spurred a shift. You won’t know until you ask!
3. What’s your budget?
Of course, it’s important to make sure you and your client are on the same page with your budget. Not only does this avoid wasting unnecessary time, but you can scope the project to your client’s individual finances. While it can be awkward to talk money right off the bat, it’s a key indicator of success.
Your client’s budget should always match their expectations and timing. If you notice any huge disparities, this could be a chance to educate them about the value of your services and expertise. Offering different packages and upsells makes this process even smoother, especially if these are clearly listed in your marketing materials. You always need to value full transparency.
4. What have your past experiences with competitors been like?
Similarly, how would your client describe their past experiences with other professionals or companies in your field? Have they been positive, or are you the first one they’ve tried? This is a good way to gauge your client’s trust level. If they’ve only had great experiences, they might be prepared to jump right in. Alternatively, if they’ve had bad experiences, you might have to jump some hurdles to win their trust.
Most importantly, learn from the mistakes of others. If a client complains about something their past provider did (ie. poor communication), this is a chance for you to do better. When you show that you can actively listen to their concerns, this builds a strong working relationship.
5. What other providers did you look at?
Additionally, it’s helpful to know what other providers a client considered. If they chose to work with you, that’s great news! It means you have a distinct advantage against the competition. It’s helpful to understand who else they might have looked into, as well as their pros vs. cons. This question easily ties into the previous one, giving you opportunities to learn from the competition.
While you should always focus on your own goals as a professional, all client service representatives need to understand the scope of their own industries. Since you’re building a long-term relationship, you might learn key insights you can apply to the rest of your organization. Customer service doesn’t exist in silos, remember? It’s everyone’s responsibility within an organization.
6. Where did you hear about us?
Next, you want to make sure your marketing dollars are being put to work wisely. All professionals use different channels to communicate with potential leads. You might invest in social media marketing, print advertising, or loyalty programs. The better you understand how clients discover your business, the easier it is to fund marketing that works.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated answer. They might have been recommended by a past client or simply walked past your office a few times. Whatever it is, make note of it. Odds are this isn’t the only prospect influenced by these touchpoints.
7. How do you prefer to communicate?
Similarly, your goal as a client service representative is to make sure your clients feel comfortable communicating with you. Too many professionals assume they know how their clients want to communicate, but assumptions might lead you down the right pass. Instead, ask them how often and how they prefer to communicate.
Some clients might prefer text messages, while others are strictly interested in phone calls. The more you know about them, the easier it is to personalize future interactions. With 63% of consumers saying they’ll stop buying from companies that use poor personalization, this isn’t something you can overlook. Once you know how (and how often) your clients want to keep in touch with you, stick with it.
8. What concerns do you have?
With that in mind, you also want to personalize your approach to your client’s concerns. What problems do they have, and what are their immediate needs? It’s easy to jump ahead to big-picture goals, but these nitty-gritty details really matter. If you can address immediate needs quickly, you create less tension throughout the rest of the sales process.
Remember to keep it personal. If you’re working with a company (vs. an individual), consider the personal needs of different members of the organization. Every person and company has its own idea of success. This could be price, revenue, exposure, or any number of metrics. By understanding these performance indicators early on, it’s easy to make sure you’re making real progress.
9. How likely are you to recommend us?
Of course, it’s also important to use any communication as an opportunity to learn. When identifying the 10 questions every client service representative should ask, several of these have to do with reflecting on the experience. Asking how likely your client will recommend you is one way to determine your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
In a general sense, NPS is a metric that measures the loyalty customers have to a company. A higher NPS indicates more loyal customers. This is a way to leverage superfans, while also encouraging word-of-mouth referral marketing. If you’re not sure how clients feel about you, ask. With 64% of consumers thinking companies don’t understand the human element of customer experience, now is the time to take action.
10. How can we improve?
Finally, never hesitate to ask how you can improve. Asking for feedback from clients is one of the biggest indicators of a successful relationship. That being said, this can be intimidating. While you want clarity, it’s hard to hear that you might not have delivered on everything you planned. This is especially true if you had a different impression of the overall interaction. Still, those who gracefully receive feedback and put it into action are much more likely to reap long-term rewards.
To get the right feedback from a client, don’t ask basic yes or no questions. Instead, open-ended questions like “how can we improve” or “what are ways I can better support you” are more likely to lead to real progress. From there, graciously reflect on what you learned and consider how you can improve. If you show these previous clients you value their feedback, they pay attention.
Not only are people more likely to work with you in the future if you’re engaging with them throughout the sales process, but they’re likely to share this experience with others. These are the 10 questions every client service representative should ask, but it doesn’t have to end here. Consider the questions that are at the heart of your business and let these be your guide.