While dining out recently, I asked my server if I could make a slight adjustment to the meal I ordered. I was fully expecting to pay an additional charge, and I was fine with doing so. Surprisingly, the server said “No!” I sat there a bit amused, slightly surprised and also disappointed. My first inclination was to get up, and walk out. From that point on, my experience was not quite the same. I no longer felt welcomed.
Perhaps my feelings were a bit over the top, I’ll admit that. However, when I receive service, I always see it through the lens of my role in customer service. Because I am always looking for ways to improve the service I'm responsible to provide, my eyes and ears are open to what others are doing. When I receive great service or encounter new and exciting approaches, I will be an evangelist for the brand but especially the person assisting me. Conversely, when there is a letdown, I take it hard.
Nothing ruins a customer’s expectations, or eliminates their joy like poor service. Where your unfulfilled moments abound, so does customer frustration!
Saying no implies finality! It offers no recourse, compromise, or resolution. In effect, it wastes the customer’s time, in additional to frustrating them. Furthermore, retaining that customer becomes more difficult. While some may want it their way, most customers simply want a solution. They want to overcome the barrier in the journey. Your alternative may not be what they hoped for but, it is better than staying on a path to nowhere.
So, what can you do? The solution is not that difficult. Say “No, that cannot be done but, what I can do is___.” A simple alternative sets a customer at ease. It signals to them that you are listening, you care, and you are willing to satisfy their needs. Yet, it goes further than this.
It also improves the engagement of customer service agents. They find their voice! They think! They are less scripted and no longer robotic. Additionally, agents are empowered to resolve customer issues the first time. Your staff will become agents of change by offering new ideas, innovations and process improvements! More so, they avoid bearing the brunt of unnecessary frustrations directed at them.
No eliminates choice but, it does offers your customer the choice of walking away. Do your customers and staff a huge favor by eliminating “No!” They’ll be grateful.
Sean Hawkins is a Contact Center manager with over 15 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center.
He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while leading award-winning contact centers. Follow Sean on Twitter and LinkedIn.