Can mini golf teach us about great customer experiences? YES! My wife and I recently took our 6-year-old grandson Sam to play. As an avid golfer, I realized immediately that it takes a lot of patience to take a 6-year-old to play golf, even mini golf.
Of course, the most important thing in mini golf with a 6-year-old, especially if it is with your grandson, is his enjoyable experience. Isn’t the main purpose to have fun? Yet, I could not help noticing his enjoyment started to devolve into frustration and impatience when it seemingly took him “forever” to get the ball in the hole. He started improvising by “pushing” the ball instead of stroking the ball. Why?
One reason was his lack of alignment toward the goal. The lack of alignment caused him to continuously miss the hole and his frustration grew. Proper, patient, predictable, and disciplined technique was out the window all because of the lack of alignment.
We Need Alignment in Customer Experience
A lack of alignment with a customer issue, during any customer interaction, can also cause the abandonment of proper, patient, and predictable service techniques. The activity devolves into frustration and impatience for everyone.
Implementing proper, patient, and predictable questioning techniques to uncover the “catchpoint” is a way to align with the customer and avoid frustration. The catchpoint includes three things:
- the specific issue
- why it is important to the customer
- how the customer is feeling
When we have the discipline to ask the right questions to uncover the catchpoint items, we minimize customer frustration and wasted time.
Four Types of Questions
Developing and implementing disciplined questioning skills is essential if we want to optimize our customers’ experiences. There are four types of questions we can improve:
Informational questions are data. These include the who, what, where, and when of the issue.
Paraphrasing questionsare a demonstration of listening and will build trust. They are a method of confirming what was heard and contribute greatly to alignment.
Elaborating questions encourage customers to tell us more.
Clarifying questions helps confirm if the customer and service provider are aligned on the issues and on the data. These are especially useful for alignment.
Our grandson Sam was unaware his misalignment was causing his frustration. Often a customer service provider, with the best of intentions, assume they understand the customer’s issue – only to end up being frustrated. They were misaligned and did not realize it because they failed to ask enough questions.
What is the lesson from Sam? Be sure you are aligned. Be disciplined enough to ask lots of questions. Uncover the catchpoint (the issue, why it is important, and how they are feeling) and rephrase it to be sure before you “swing” into action. Reduced frustration, more fun, and improved experience will be your reward.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results