Is Saying "No" Good Customer Service

Many folks, particularly newer or lesser trained associates, have a difficult time saying "no".   Some even believe good customer service equates to saying  "yes" to all customer requests.  To be successful, you and your associates must be able to say "no" without alienating your customers.  Here are some tips to help you increase your customer service during those difficult times when we just can't give the customer what they want.

1.  Get your customer into your office.

2.  Converse / Relax - gather all the facts and information, get to the root source of the situation.  Put the customer at ease, let them know up front you are here to help them.

3.  During the conversation, it's great to be able to genuinely agree with your customer when possible.  But more often than not, it's not that easy.  Nonetheless, the more common ground you can uncover, the better your chances of success.

4.  Ask the customer for their plan of action.  Unless you are dealing with a warranty or other matter you are obviously responsible for, always place the responsibility of coming up with a solution(s) on your customer.  Communicating this to your customer is of the utmost importance.

5.  Ask about other options the customer may not have thought about (i.e. borrowing against a 401k or life insurance policy, or from Aunt Martha.

6.  I can't stress enough the importance of empathy and exploring all options.

7.  In the event you have to tell your customer "no", follow up with what you can do.  Focus on the positive action.  "I'm sorry we can't put a new transmission in your car, but we can help you locate a used or rebuilt one at our cost.  We can negotiate the installation with one of our vendors or you can decide who you want doing the work."

8.  DOCUMENT the conversation in the customer information module in Solutions Software.

9.  Make sure your customer is satisfied that you have done your best.

10.  Never allow a customer to leave dissatisfied without first bringing them to the manager or whomever has authority to make the tougher decisions. 

Customer service is not about yes or no, it's about our attitude, our appreciation for them choosing to be our customer, and doing whatever we can (within the parameters of your business and short of a bad business decision) to help them succeed.    Saying "no" in and of itself is not bad customer service - the manner in which it is delivered along with your genuine efforts to help will speak volumes about your commitment to superior customer service.

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