Customer Service Excellence: Say No To Your Customers While Keeping Them Happy

Do you remember Carl Allen, the man who decided to follow a motivational philosophy and say “Yes” to any request, invitation or opportunity he receives? Of course, I’m talking about a fictional character from the movie Yes Man. Alan went from one extreme to another; at the beginning, he said no to anything and in the end, he says yes to everything.

In customer service, customers expect businesses to say yes to all of their request. As a business, you understand there are situations when “No” is the only answer you can give. Finding  a balance between these two cases helps you have a good customer service strategy.

Handling positive situations is easy. It is the hard times and how you deal with them that show the strength of your customer service. Saying no to your customers is one of these difficult situations.

Good customer service is giving customers the answers they need. Customer service excellence is handling all types of situations with calm, professionalism and patience. It is more than just an action, it is an experience.

Sometimes, you cannot deliver a certain answer for objective reasons. The impact of this action on your customers depends on how you present them the situation and the aspects you focus on.

In order to know more about how you can reach this level of customer service excellence, here are a few ways you can say no yo your customers while keeping them happy.

Rely on the power of positive language

The word “No”, yet short, easy to pronounce and remember, has a great power behind it. Do you know the feeling you had when, as a child, you asked for something and your parents refused you? Basically, they said “No.” This is the same feeling when customers are receiving the same answer from you.

Fortunately, you can easily replace it with positive language. It refers to concentrating all your attention to finding alternative ways to help your customers.

When you say “no”to your customers, you are giving them the impression that you do not want to help them and closing their window of hope.

Let’s take the following situation. One of your customers uses your service and has a free account on it. He wants to have access to features available only for paid accounts. You can answer him in two ways

1. The features you want to access are available only for paid accounts. You cannot use them if you have a free account.

2. Yes, you can access these features once you have paid account. If you already have an account, follow these instructions for upgrading it.

See the difference? You have the power to either shut or open a window of opportunity.

Think of alternative solutions

While you cannot give customers exactly what they are looking for, you can think of possible alternatives. These other solutions can bring them close to the answers they need.

If they are looking for a particular product and you do not sell it or it is out of stock, you can answer in two ways:

  • tell them you do not have it anymore
  • explain you are not selling it/ it is out stock and recommend them similar products based on features, reviews or specific requests from your customers

Seeing beyond the questions you receive is an important step towards customer service excellence. You may be able to solve their issue in a surprising and pleasant way.

Explain them the situation

When you are not able to fulfill a request, a simple “no” is not enough to make your customers understand the situation. Whether your business policy does not allow you or you are dealing with information not available for the public, you need to explain these details to your customers.

While you empathize with their need, they have to understand you as well.

Apologizing is also a very important aspect. It makes customers feel you care about their problem.

Maintain your calm in front of angry customers

There are customers who understand the situation, and there are customers who don’t. They may lose their calm and become angry. In these cases, you need to keep your calm and remain polite. Customer service excellence means acting with patience and professionalism.

Saying “No”to your customers does not mean the end in customer service. Its impact depends on how you deal with the situation. Customers can understand you may not be able to fulfill certain requests. Learning how to say no to customers while keeping them happy is key step towards customer service excellence and business growth.

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