How To Tell a Customer "No"

| September 16, 2011

Globally, there seems to be a general reluctance to tell someone “no.”

This reluctance promotes a lifelong game of translating subtle expressions or tone. Some of the most delicate need-to-say-no-but-I-can’t scenarios occur with customers. In this dilemma, we’re all acutely aware of the potential for losing someone’s business.

There will be occasions when you must deliver a “no” to a customer. In these instances, we offer you sage advice:

Do not use the word "NO".

It is not necessary to get your point across, and more likely than not it will just aggravate the recipient since it’s not a word that any of us associate with positivity.

Set Clear Expectations

The easiest way to rarely have to say no is to set clear expectations for your customers. Make sure that you articulate the capabilities of your product. Alternately, your team needs to be aware of the limitations of what you’re selling. This way, you don’t make any promises you can’t keep, and the customer shouldn’t have any false expectations.

Think of Creative Solutions

If your instinctive reaction to a customer’s request is to say no, fight it! We are in the creative solutions business. Ask yourselves the following questions before you tell the customer you can’t complete their request:

How to Say NO

If you believe you’ve exhausted all the solutions that are available to you, then bite the bullet and respond to the customer that you’re unable to complete their request. Consider these ways to approach this for a successful outcome: