I bought an iPhone last March. Yep, it was my first. I was an iPhone virgin. Go ahead. Say it:  “LOSER!”

It had been a long time coming and I was SO EXCITED about it. And then it didn’t work. Really didn’t work… people couldn’t hear me when I talked… kind of a problem.

After being told at the AT&T store that I’d have to go to the Apple Store I was a bit fragile about the whole situation. First, I was greeted at the Apple Store by a twenty-something zealot who told me that “If I had bought the phone at HIS store, he could just give me a new phone, but because I got it somewhere else he’d have to see if there was an appointment available and he wasn’t sure what they could do.” Seriously!?! Shut up kid.

Then I met Janet…. lovely Janet behind the Genius Bar. She listened with an empathic gaze into my eyes as I described my plight. And then she quietly asked me potentially the most brilliant customer service question ever:

“What do your instincts tell you about what’s wrong with the phone?”

Yep, she asked ME and then she listened (carefully) as I told her that I think the phone is a lemon and that it just doesn’t work.

And from that simple question and my response, I believe she was able to calibrate her options in responding to my plight. She fiddled with the phone, did a couple of little tests, and then said, “We’re just going to give you a new phone. It’s totally unfair that you’ve had this phone for a day and it doesn’t work.”

Totally unfair! She said it was totally unfair! YES, that’s it! It was totally unfair. And there was no way – short of giving me a new phone – that she could make it fair. Because my instincts were telling me that the phone was a lemon and un-fixable, Janet knew that she had only one option. Brilliant.

I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people, but I have never directly asked the question:  “What are your instincts telling you …?”

Have you ever directly asked that question in a professional conversation? Isn’t that often the point?

I am going to add this very powerful question to my conversations. It can compassionately and easily reveal more about the mindset of the person you’re talking to than just about any other question I can imagine.

And btw, okay, okay, I (finally) get it… I LOVE APPLE!