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No More IDK: How to Respond to Questions You Don’t Know the Answer To

It has happened to all of us working in the customer service field… a customer asks a question that you just don’t know the answer to. Sometimes it catches you off guard and you’re stumped. Or, perhaps you have an idea of what you think the answer should be, but you’re not completely sure.

One thing is for sure, you must resist the urge to answer without full confidence. You don’t want to mislead your customer and create a future disappointment.

Instead, here are some excellent answers to give to a customer when you just don’t know the answer:

1. If you know that you have the answer, perhaps in a company manual, but need some time to find it, politely let the person know you’re looking into it for them (instead of just “hang on”) If you must place the caller on hold, be sure to ask them if it’s ok to do so first.

2. Another way to reassure the caller is to repeat the question they have so they can tell you understand their problem. “You need a phone number for the shop because they didn’t call you back yesterday? Alright I’ll find that for you, bear with me a moment.”

3. Demonstrate your desire to find the answer for your caller with an action statement: “I will have Steve get back to you on that, may I get your phone number for him to call you?”

4. If the reason you’re unsure of the answer is because the caller did not provide you with enough information, ask questions!

5. When in doubt of how to answer a question, say, “That’s a good question” and create a plan to find the answer. If the situation requires an immediate response, ask the caller to hold while you research, or ask for assistance. Alternatively, if appropriate, schedule a time to reconnect with your customer so that you can properly research and gain a full understanding before formulating a response, ensuring the best possible customer service.

Bonus tip: if the result of your customers question is that you need time to look into the details further, ask if there are any other questions that your caller might have before hanging up. Handle what you can immediately and let your customer know when to expect an answer to any questions that require investigation.

Be sure to do what you say you are going to do. If you tell your customer you will follow up the next day, be sure to do so – even if it’s just an update. c