The Always Say 'Yes' Mentality

More often than not, the easiest word for a customer service representative to say when interacting with a customer is, 'no.' Unfortunately, it often is the most damaging word that can be said, as well. Customers are selfish individuals, and should be. After all, they've worked long, hard hours to earn the money that they are going to be spending with your company. A selfish individual does not want to hear what can't be done, they want to know what you're going to do for them, how you're going to do it, and how long it's going to take. Therefore, your most important task is to provide a reassuring atmosphere to your customer by providing the right products and services with the best associates. This is where the word 'no' becomes so dangerous. When you tell a customer no, you take them out of the comfortable reassured atmosphere where purchases happen and place them in a position of being defensive or even offended. Customers feel as though they have spent the time to find your company, contact your company (whether by phone, internet or in person) only to be told that whatever they are requesting cannot be provided. Many feel this way, even if the 'no' they received was not directly related to their main object of consideration. For example, when I worked for one of the nation's leading truck rental and leasing company's, we provided trucks for do-it-yourself movers. People would make reservations weeks and months in advance, planning out every last detail. When the date arrived to pick up their truck, they would walk through the door, most stressed due to the life event taking place, and would begin to complete the required paperwork. Sometimes a customer would request to pull a trailer with the rental truck, as the truck had a ball hitch and wiring for pulling a car carrier trailer. The company policy stated that nothing other than company trailer equipment was to be pulled behind the rental truck. However, instead of explaining the policy, often a customer service representative would simply answer 'no,' and unfortunately from the customer's standpoint nothing else that had occurred during that transaction mattered any longer. Their moving truck was still available, it was still the brand new one with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, it was still full of fuel, but those things no longer mattered to the customer because they'd been told 'no.'

The proper way to handle a situation when you're forced to turn down a customer request is to respond with what you can do, not what you cannot. This is the 'Always Say 'Yes' Mentality.' In the example given above, instead of responding to the question of whether personal trailer could be towed behind the rental truck with a simple 'no,' the proper response should have been something to the effect of, 'Unfortunately company policy states prohibits the towing of any non-company vehicle behind the rental truck. In addition, the ball hitch is a specialized 2 1/4" size along with a custom wiring harness which will likely not accommodate your personal tow vehicle. However, I have the phone number for a few companies which will gladly relocate your trailer equipment for a fee, would you like me to provide you with their information?' In this circumstance the customer was told what they were requesting was not available, however, they were also told what could be done to appease their request. The customer was also given the opportunity to determine the outcome of the situation by choosing 'how to' and 'whether or not to' proceed. In effect, you've told the customer what they're requesting is not available, you have not said 'no,' but have given the customer the opportunity to say 'no.'

There are appropriate ways to disclose to a customer that something they seek is not available and/or not an option, however, a simple 'no,' is never the right call. Here's an article which lists many of the common ways customer service representatives say 'no.' Teach your team how to appropriately respond to these situations, and you'll maximize your customers experiences and guarantee repeat business!


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