“How was everything?” Have you been asked this question by a hotel front desk clerk, a server at a restaurant, or a car salesman after a demo ride? How likely is it that your response is either true or complete?

The simple fact is that the EASY answer to this question is “Fine.” This answer does not give any insight to the customer service experience or sales readiness. How then, should this question be altered to get better insight to your customer’s impressions?
Let’s look first at the restaurant server example. “What did you think about the filet?” Notice that this question required more than a one word response. The customer is more likely to give an honest appraisal of how much they liked it or, even more importantly, why they didn’t like it. “It was fantastic!” or “Well, it was good, but it was a bit overcooked” both give better insight into the customer’s level of satisfaction.
Now let’s look at the hotel. Front desk personnel could be trained to alternate the following questions: “Was there anything we could have improved about your stay?” or “What did you like best about your room?” While these questions are slanted toward a positive or negative response, they will generate more specific feedback that the “How was your stay?” question.
Finally let’s look at the car salesman speaking to a potential buyer after a demo ride. In any sales scenario, we want as much insight as possible into the thoughts of the buyer. Specific questions on buying criteria and your product’s ability to meet that criteria may be the difference between a sale and a joy ride. “What did you like best about the way the car handled?” or “How did that compare to the last car you test-drove?” are questions that will arm the salesperson with knowledge of buyer satisfaction or the need to pivot to a different product.
Customer service improvements can only be made if we are genuinely interested in finding out HOW we can improve. Buying readiness can only be gauged by asking specific questions. Simply asking “How was everything?” rarely generates actionable information. Listen to the questions asked by your customer service and sales staff and make sure the responses are more than “fine!”