One of the biggest initiatives for many companies as the economy continues to improve focuses on the customer experience. Businesses are currently investing millions of dollars a year to improving the overall experience of their customers. With that being said, there are times in which a business should say no to a client. This may seem like conflicting advice for companies that are focused on making their customers happy. However, there are situations that call for businesses to put their foot down and let their customers know that their expectations are unreasonable.
How to Say No to a Customer
For years many people in business believe that the key to customer retention was simply always saying yes to the customer. However there are many studies that show over the long term this is actually not the best strategy. In fact, over half of customers reporting that they had a negative experience with a company also report having multiple bad experiences with other companies. This simply means that many customers who have had negative experiences with one company have had them at many more.
Learning how to say no to a customer is a skill that many in business need to learn. If a customer asks for something that is simply unreasonable a business should not always comply with a customer’s demand. Instead of simply using the word no, a business should explain why the request cannot be accepted and offer an alternative solution. When another solution is offered, a customer will feel as though they made a difference in getting their point across.
How to Determine When to Say No
Denying a customer request can be a scary proposition for any business, especially one with only a few clients. An unhappy customer can cost a business thousands of dollars in loss of business and in brand name erosion. There are many ground rules that a business can go by on when it is appropriate to say no to a customer.
One of the most obvious situations for this is when one customer is hurting the experience of another. If you own a restaurant and a customer comes in demanding to cut in front of everyone else, this is not a situation where the business would be in the wrong by not complying with a customer request. Once a customer has a bad mental picture of a company it is almost impossible to turn that around. Instead, the business should concentrate on keeping their current happy customers even more satisfied.
Turning the Situation Around
Even if a business has to tell a customer no on their request, a business can still use the opportunity to reach out to the customer to see if there are any other needs that the company can fill. Just because a company cannot comply with one request, this does not mean the business should say no to each incoming request. Over half of new businesses will fail in the first couple of years after starting, and businesses can reduce their odds of failure by going the extra mile in addressing any other concerns that a customer has.
Retaining customers is one of the most important initiatives that a business can take on. It costs three times as much for a business to go out and win another customer rather than simply retaining one that they already have. With that being said, there are times when a customer request can simply not be complied with. There are certain ways that a company can handle this situation that makes it so the customer can still have a positive experience with the company and come back next time.
About the author: Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur. Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media.