A framework to consider as you create your own questioning strategy is the Inverted Pyramid approach.
This strategy will lead you and the person to a definition of the problem.
- Background Questions – encourage people to describe the current situation and give you a clearer picture of their problem or their business.
- Process Questions – create a common understanding of what the person has done to resolve the problem and how the problem impacts the business.
- Detail Questions – gather more specific information on the background and/or process question.
- Action Questions – identify, assign and gain agreement on the next step in solving a problem.
All of these types of questions enable the service provider to try to determine the particular needs of the customer. Using a combination of questions manages the conversation.
By asking the following background question, it is amazing the information you will receive: “Can you tell me a little bit about what is happening within your organization?”
Once the person has responded, then you can zero in with a process type of question: “How long has this been going on?” or perhaps another process question, “What has been done to rectify the situation?”
Once you understand clearly what the problem is and what has been done to date, then you can go into details and ask specific questions like, “Have you tried the following?” or “Has anyone tried the following approach?”
This moves right into an action question. “I think X might work within this organization,” or “What do you think might work in this organization?”
Using a questioning strategy of this nature creates a conversation, versus an interrogation. People love to talk! When you ask opened ended questions, you will be amazed at the information they will share with you. Questions are your “secret weapon,” and a questioning strategy will be the key to your success.
Dianne Durkin is president and founder of Loyalty Factor, a specialized consulting and training company that enhances employee, customer and brand loyalty for some of the nation’s most prominent corporations and many smaller businesses. Dianne’s proven expertise lies in helping companies quickly get to the core issues and outlining their impact on the organization’s profits, productivity and people. www.loyaltyfactor.com