If there is any doubt at all as to what the customer or client needs, wants or suggests, just stop right then and clarify. Chances are if you do so, they will be open to your request for clarification because they too WANT you to understand their perspective. If you don’t clarify a statement - which most likely is either a request, an action item or a new concept - if you miss the meaning it could be dangerous or costly.
Clarification offers you a chance to listen to what the client says and verify that what they said is what you “heard” them say. And asking questions slows the conversation down while verifying clarity and building greater trust. Never be too proud to question or ask for clarification.
One approach is to pose a question, such as, "I missed that, could you clarify for me…?" Questions are appropriate at any time during these discussions. They also indicate that you are paying attention and care about getting the information right. And, generally people don’t mind answering your request to elaborate on what they are thinking or what they have said.
Clarification Matters in Your Client/Customer Relationships
Remember - never assume that you know or understand before you clarify to your satisfaction what has been said exactly and what the customer meant. Following this approach makes you smarter and improves your understanding of your customer – both personally and professionally.
Your questions do not deter but rather enhance your conversations.
It is critical that you see what your customer sees. When you do,
the results will be rewarding.
This discussion could be about a project, a new product or service, growth/downsizing, new equipment or a concern. Missing the relevance about any of these topics is risky. So never assume that you fully understand what the customer said or meant.
Now go out there and Ask Away!