How to respond to a customer’s question when you don’t know the answer

  • Pick out what you know
    Even if you can’t be the sum of all wisdom for a customer, you can at least offer a few helpful gems. If their question is layered or multi-faceted (or if they have a wealth of questions), answer what you can. A partial immediate answer is always better than a look of confusion and some stumbling around. Answer what you’re prepared to answer. If you need more information to completely satisfy the customer, worry about the last. Answer what you can answer at first. You’ll appear knowledgeable, even if you need to do some fact checking or bring in another employee to handle the rest of the questions.

  • Never lie to a customer
    The worst thing you can do is outright lie to a customer. Sooner or later, that customer is going to find out. He or she will be smart enough to realize that you told them something to save your ego and sent them off on their merry way. This can damage relationships between a customer and a business – you leaving them with such a negative impression as a representative of a company can give them an unfavorable opinion of the company as a whole.

  • Know when to redirect the topic

There are two different ways to redirect when you’re not sure how to properly help a customer. One is to move them on by redirecting them to a different issue, and the other is to redirect them to another employee. If you can, you should first attempt to redirect them to a different issue. If the questions they’re asking aren’t necessarily relevant to the help they need, you shouldn’t feel ashamed that you aren’t sure how to answer them.

  • If you do redirect, redirect properly

Sometimes, you won’t know the answers or you won’t have the authority to do something. You might not be able to easily access what you need in order to help the customer. When all options fail, redirect the customer sooner rather than later. Try not to send them on a wild goose chase or let them feel like they’re wasting time with you. If after a minute or two you’re still unsure, you have a duty to put them directly in contact with someone who will be sure.