The Top 10 Probing Questions for Customer Service

CX Today Team

Probing questions gather specific, helpful insights into customer qualms

The Top 10 Probing Questions for Customer Service

Understanding a customer’s query is not always easy. Sometimes there are many grey areas in what they say, making it difficult for agents to grasp a complete picture of their situation.

Moreover, agents often cannot decipher what outcome they are hoping for and whether they are happy with the resolution path the interaction is hurtling towards.

In each of these scenarios, probing questions are an agent’s best friend. They enable agents to dig into particular parts of a customer query to understand their reasoning and emotional drivers.

As such, they allow agents to gather the information they need to assist customers and improve business outcomes.

The Top 10 Probing Questions for Customer Service

Here are ten excellent examples of probing questions for customer service, each designed to elicit more information from customers into specific parts of their queries.

1. So we’re on the same page, could you give me an example of what you mean by…?

Spelling out issues is not a skill that everyone possesses. As such, agents must often ask customers to rephrase their problems to understand them fully. This probing question is an excellent way for agents to check their understanding.

2. When did the issue arise?

Identifying the problem’s onset may enable the agent to isolate its cause. They may then get to grips with how long the customer has experienced the issue, informing their steps to resolution.

3. Could you describe what you were doing before this happened?

Often, customers unwittingly cause the problem themselves, so understanding what they were doing when the issue first arose is sometimes critical to fully understanding the customer’s query.

4. Has this occurred previously?

Often customer issues are not isolated incidences. By asking this question, agents can uncover whether this is a systematic issue. If this is the case, they can find out what solved the problem before and suggest small adjustments that work better in the long run.

5. What have you already done to try and solve the issue?

Customers are often quite creative. Often their solutions will do this trick with a simple nudge in the right direction. As such, agents can piggyback on their ideas while avoiding offering them the same solutions they have already tried.

6. Could you describe what you see/hear/taste?

Most agents have lots of experience in handling customer qualms. Asking sensory questions like this will help increase their understanding of the issue, so they can perhaps link it to other customer queries they previously handled.

7. Were any error messages displayed?

When the issue is technology-related, understanding if the system relayed codes to the customer can provide insight into what went wrong. Indeed, if the customer reports specific error numbers, this could assist service agents in rapidly identifying the problem.

8. Could you possibly circle back to…?

Occasionally, the consumer will pass over a small detail that is potentially crucial to the resolution process. Attentive agents may pick up on this, call attention to it, and refocus the conversation.

9. How would you feel about… solution?

When unsure of how a customer may react to a proposed resolution, using this probing question to float it will help the agent understand whether the customer is satisfied without locking horns.

10. What additional benefits can we offer?

Such a question helps agents to uncover how much value customers are deriving from its offerings. It is also helpful in understanding what matters most to the customer, informing future personalized engagement strategies.

Probing Questions and The Funnel Effect

The Funnel Effect is a tool that contact center agents can use to solve a customer query.

It follows this three-step process:

  • Step 1: Ask an Open-Ended Question – These questions do not demand a particular response. They provide the customer with the chance to convey their story in detail. Agents can then probe into the most striking
  • Step 2: Ask a Probing Question – These questions allow agents to focus on the most intriguing parts of a customer response to shed light on grey areas and gain a better understanding of the customer’s problem.
  • Step 3: Ask a Closed-Ended Question – These questions simply require a “yes” or “no” response from customers. Using them after a probing question helps agents to confirm their understanding.

Following this process, agents can start plotting out a solution.

Closing Thoughts

Probing questions redirect discussions towards finding a solution by providing agents with the information and context they need to assist the customer.

Also, they are helpful when agents perceive that the consumer isn’t content with the proposed solution and wishes to dig deeper into their preferences.

Looking for more ideas to improve customer service? Read our article: Contact Center Optimization: 9 Quick-Fire Tips to Improve Performance


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