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How to hone the art of answering in negative and still have a customer centric business? Read on this article to know more.
How do you say ‘NO’ to a customer? The art of answering a no lies in how you present it to your customers. Now you do not want to jeopardize your relationship and neither do you wish to cut losses for your company. Although it might look like a situation wherein you have to navigate through ambiguity, it is always better to keep some tips handy that will help you out in such a similar situation. This post today will walk you through 6 such tips that will hone your skill of answering in negative to your customers and still have a customer-centric business approach with them. Without any further ado, let us get started.
First things first, do not keep your customers in an illusion that you will get the product delivered when you don’t have any left, or will get back to them when you clearly do not have any intention of doing so. Instead, be totally honest and transparent with them. If there is something that you have already promised and cannot deliver, let them know in advance. Remember people can generally spot insincerity when they see it, and dishonesty can come back to bite you. However, you can always redeem yourself by being honest and keeping your policies super transparent at all times.
Know that you can still say no or refuse to their request without having to use the word no. Instead of “No, we don’t have that,” try phrases like, “Although I can see how that would be useful, but I’m afraid we don’t have plans to add that functionality,” or “While there’s currently no way to do that, we appreciate you taking the time to let us know what you’re looking for—most of the improvements we make come from ideas and suggestions like yours, so thank you for reaching out!”. A positive language will give you the chance to reconnect with them in the future and that way the customer would not feel as feel they are wasting their time with you.
It is important that you practice active listening with your customer at all times. They should not feel neglected that you are interrupting them when you are speaking or anything to that effect. If possible, address the customers with their name and acknowledge their issues as fast as you can without making them wait. When you have to answer in negative, make sure that the customer has spoken whatever they wished to and always acknowledge their effort and gratitude.
It is a given that you wish to create happy customers, not marginally satisfied ones. When you don’t have what they’re looking for, you still have the opportunity to generate goodwill by pointing them toward a workaround or a substitute to their product. Let us assume that you have run out of a product from a particular brand but you do have a substitute to the same product from a different brand that you happen to sale. Instead of refusing that you do not have that particular product, try offering them substitutes of what is available next. This way your customer will not be that dissatisfied and will appreciate your efforts as well.
Being empathetic always helps. The best part about empathy statements is that it lets you establish a connection with your customers. The chances of a customer getting mad at you are lesser when they see that you are empathetic towards them. Such statements also form trust as well as mutual understanding with your customers. In most cases when you need to deliver negative news, it may be necessary to begin with empathy to show your customers that you care and will do your best to help them. To deploy this formula, start using phrases like, I totally understand, I completely agree, Please accept my apology and so no and so forth. Whatever the reply might constitute, always remember to add the special ingredient of empathy in your responses. s.
If you have said “No” to your customers before, make it a point that you follow them up with good news and with your “Yes” to the feature or product they inquired. This way your customers will feel heard and appreciated as well. Keeping your customers informed about your progress is important if you want to win their customer loyalty, which is crucial for your business. A simple follow up will not take much time. However, if you forget to notify your customers about the available solutions and they will find it out themselves, this will help build your reputation.10
Practice these six battle-tested tips to refrain from hurting your customers when you have a no for them. Always remember honesty is the best policy, use positive language instead and always, hear out the customer, patiently, if possible, render them substitutes, ensure that you know empathy is the key here, and finally follow up as and when you feel you can. At the end of the day, isn’t the satisfaction and love of the customers that matter to you?
Highly accomplished, motivated, and adaptable sales and operations professional with a track record of successful leadership. Known for an empathetic and consultative approach that consistently exceeds growth and revenue goals.
Published October 26, 2021, Updated June 07, 2023
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