Millions of dollars are spent each year attracting new customers. Once a company procures that customer, an investment is made to deliver an excellent customer experience. However, all the money on advertising, social media exposure, and staff coaching, goes right out the window with the word, “NO!” There are other variations as well: “can’t, won’t, not allowed.” All have the capacity to destroy customer goodwill.
- In August, I went into a men’s store and asked if they had their winter gloves in stock yet. The answer was “no.” Period. It could have been,” What were you looking for? Let me check with my manager if we will be getting the style you want. Please give me your number or email and I will contact you tomorrow.” When an associate just says no, the customer is being told we don’t care and you’re not important.
- We recently had our bathroom renovated. The contractor had promised that he could install a 4-inch deep medicine cabinet. When the sheetrock was removed, he discovered the studs were not where he thought they were and wouldn’t allow for the cabinet we wanted. Did he say, “No, we can’t do it?” Actually not; he said, “We have a problem and don’t worry, I have two solutions. You can decide which one will work better for you.” When customers can make a choice, they feel better.
- I called my credit card company with a question. I tried to resolve the issue on their website, but could not. The recording that answered my call said, “We are experiencing a high volume of calls and customers should contact us another time.” That’s a terrible message. It’s telling me I’m not important and my question can wait. There must be enough representatives available to help customers without a long hold time or calling back.
- Many restaurants require a reservation. How many times have you called and were told,” Sorry, we are booked.” Is the restaurant booked for life? A better response would be, “ Is there another time or day that would work for you? We would like for you to dine with us.” Let a customer know their business and loyalty is valued.
- The founder of CitiStorage, Norm Brodsky, instructed his staff never to say “no” to a co-worker or customer without speaking to him first. In the early 1990’s the company was only storing furniture and “stuff” from peoples’ homes. A customer called and asked if he could store 27 boxes of business records. That request had never been made and Norm had not considered that kind of service. Because of the customer’s inquiry, Mr. Brodsky decided to start a new division of his company, storing business records. Today, that is a significant part of his sales and profits. The opportunity may never have presented itself if company policy was just to say no. How much money is your business losing?
It is vital that customers feel valued and appreciated. Telling customers no defeats that purpose. Don’t lose a customer’s loyalty with a negative. The relationship may end and never be recovered.