Everyone who works in customer service has been found in the cumbersome task of having to say no to a customer occasionally.
There are situations where we can’t avoid this difficult task. Either because we do not provide exactly the service that the client needs, because we do not have the operational capacity at that moment or simply because it is not the type of client we would like to work with, it is essential to do it in the right way.
Saying no to a client can be hurtful or even perceived as rude or discourteous. This is the reason why we must do it with a lot of tact. It is important to say no when we are unable to do what they ask, or when we believe there is a better solution to the client’s problem or need.
Even if we are selling or providing customer service, we have two options: to say no or knowing how to say no. To know how to say no to clients is to succeed in satisfying their requests and needs even by refusing something.
But first, you must dare to say no! Either for an unjustified request or during a complicated negotiation, it is important to know how to refuse. To do this, you must go around 3 barriers:
Whatever the reason, accepting a request that should have been refused will sooner or later hurt you. Difficulties to respect the commitment can bring more problems. Worse, the customer will get used to seeing you accept complicated requests.
In a negotiation, what is said is rarely the pure truth. What interests each interlocutor is to get what he wants at the end of the interview. Hence the interest of being absolutely certain to have understood what the customer wants, including what is not expressed. It is the quality of the agent and the questions-answers and reformulations that will achieve this goal. Check the needs, interests, requests… And once you have this information, you can refuse more flexibly.
Do you trust a salesperson who whispers a slight “no”? The customer either!
Show him that you know what you are talking about and that your no is thoughtful. You must manage to explain your refusal (not justify it!) And show that you are not opposed to the good of the customer. This will increase your professionalism and show that you know your subject. Be natural and sincere with your client. You will only be more convincing.
To say no effectively is a technique to master, it is not innate. It is essential that your refusal to be legitimate and not a justification! Once assimilated, the refusal will differentiate you from those who accept everything.
The most important thing to remember: knowing how to say no to a customer means giving a lot more weight and impact the next time you say yes!
Sometimes may be wise after explaining your refusal, to do the same with the risks involved in the “yes”. This phase is delicate. To know how to say no is to be relevant.
To say no, you must propose an alternative. When you refuse, you must give the customer a solution, otherwise, the frustration will not settle down. Your negotiating experience will allow you to propose an alternative that benefits the client. If you are skilled, he will even be happy to have seen his first request rejected in favor of the proposed solution.
Especially for those who provide professional services, the limitation of time available is a frequent cause where you must decline to client requests. If, for example, you are a doctor and you do not have appointments available for three months, instead of saying a curt “We do not have appointments until February of next year,” you can say “Although we do not have appointments in the coming weeks, contact us in case someone cancels”, or ”Unfortunately we do not have appointments for the next few weeks, but I would be happy to recommend a colleague. ”
If for example a client request from you a service that you do not offer, and you know that it is something that does not work, you could say, “I appreciate your request. However, that is not our specialization. We focus on this or that subject”, this approach raises the possibility of selling something that the customer did not know you were providing.
There are situations where your business does what your client needs, but it does not fit into what you have previously defined as your target customer. In this case, a kind way to decline is to recognize that you focus on other types of needs, other types of projects, other markets or other types of services. Recommend another company that can serve this customer will always be an alternative.
While you cannot agree to give discounts that are not authorized, you can previously design alternatives to negotiate profitably. You can offer options or another element that represents a benefit for both your client and you.
A client appreciates your knowledge and recommendations. You should not access requests that you know are not the best for your client. Take the time to explain why the alternative they propose may not be the best for their needs and what options you must solve it according to your experience and what you consider is better. Remember that when it comes to what you sell, the customer is not always right. However, orient it kindly about what it should be.
Clients are stronger than we think. The key to an honest and direct “no” is to come to the point. It is not necessary to apologize or leave with excuses. Do not hesitate to be open and frank.
Finding the strength to say no when the moment requires it, can make us grow personally and professionally. Each situation is unique, but with these guidelines, we will get out of the trance better.
It is not a question of justifying oneself, but of making one’s decision clear. Authoritarian refusals without explanations always seem arbitrary. People do not respect an arbitrary power. If you want to the respect of your customers, explain clearly why you refused. It is without appeal, but transparent.
Publish Date: October 22, 2018
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