0034: Want Better Answers? Ask Better Questions.



Show notes:

Hey there, hero!

I’m a huge fan of helping people out, but damn, some people make it next to impossible.

It’s not just the people who don’t really ask a question, like the user who dismissively writes me a support request of “This stupid software doesn’t work! Help!”

It’s everyone who asks a question that isn’t the best question to ask…or even a better question than the one they do ask.

If you’d like better answers, I’ll give you 2 big pieces of advice in this video.

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  1. I’d also add to that, “Don’t tell me what you think the solution is”. When I sold guitars for a living, I also took in a lot of guitars for repair work. A lot of customers wouldn’t tell me what exactly the problem was, but would tell me what to do to fix it. I’d stop them as they got into those explanations and say to them, “Just show me the problem.” if you tell a repairman to look at one area to fix a problem, that’s all they’ll look at. Once I could see/hear what was going on, I could let the repairman know what was wrong and he’d look at all possible areas to find a solution. More than once our repairman said to me “You’ve got ‘grasp’.” I just knew how to listen.

  2. Think of what you always hear when you call tech support. Did you close the application and try to restart it? Rebooting the computer after installing software is often a requirement for the software to work (correctly)…is the computer plugged in? did you hit start? it is surprising how often these very obvious questions fix things, that’s why they ask those type of questions up front. I studied computers a few decades ago under a guy we called E.Z. Bruce. Easy because he always asked these fundamentals first when troubleshooting, amazing how often one of these fixed the problem…walk away, have a cup of coffee or water…take a deep breath…look with a fresh eye…then take advice from EZ Bruce.

  3. What works best for me when I’m frustrated and need assistance/answers is taking a few minutes to pause and reset my mood before contacting support. I have GAD so even the smallest tech issues can get me really ramped up which makes it even more difficult for me to process any information I’ve been given. This just makes things more frustrating for everyone involved. I’ve found that taking a break before leading with compassion, kindness and honesty helps both of us and leads to a much better and more positive outcome for everyone.

  4. My favorite question in bookstores or the library I manage is: “Do you have that book? It’s got a red cover?”
    Here’s my big tip: The nicer you are, the more likely it is that someone will help you. When I was a restaurant manager (30ish years), the people who were nice about something being wrong were much more likely to have me fix it or comp it. The nasty people would sometimes be told “I’m sorry, that’s how you ordered it.”
    This also goes along with “Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.” – Patrick Swayze as Dalton -in Roadhouse.
    The customer is NOT always right, but they deserve to be heard – in fact, sometimes that is all they really want.