Saying no is hard in customer service. The very nature of the industry is to help accommodate and satisfy the customer whenever possible, but sometimes it’s necessary to tell a customer no. It’s much harder to do than delivering positive news or a resounding “Sure!” – something every customer loves to hear.
That’s why it’s important to know a few different polite ways to tell a customer no. You’ll inevitably have to do it, and if you’re too blunt, you could lose a customer forever.
Saying no doesn’t have to cause conflict with a customer. If you choose your words carefully, show empathy, and use a gentle tone of voice, you can stick to company policy without angering or upsetting the customer.
What are the most common reasons you’ll have to tell a customer no? Keep reading below.
5 Reasons to Tell a Customer No
It’s against company policy – Clearly, if a request is against your company policy, you’ll have to say no. Tell the customer it’s against company policy, apologize for the inconvenience, and ask if there’s anything else you can help with.
The request is unprecedented – If a customer’s request is unprecedented – Ordering a half-portion of a meal at your restaurant, asking to skip a certification course at your sky-diving facility because they say they’ve been before, asking to take your nursery’s dying plants at no cost, etc. – it’s okay to tell a customer no, although in certain cases you might let them know you’ll consider it or run it up the ladder.
You are not legally allowed to complete the request – The customer might be asking for personal information on another customer, an employee, or an open legal matter involving the company. If you’re not legally allowed to complete the request, you have to say no politely.
The customer threatens or insults you – If the conversation reaches the point where there are threats or insults toward you or the company, it’s time to give a definitive no, a warning that you’ll involve the police if the behavior continues, and end the call.
The request wouldn’t be fair – Say a customer asked you to hold a new shipment of products so she could look through them and have her pick before they went out on the floor. It might not technically violate company policy, but it’s clearly unfair by offering an advantage to one customer that other customers don’t get.
Now that we’ve looked at the reasons to say no to a customer, you can feel confident during the situations where you find yourself unable to agree to a customer’s request. Sometimes, it’s necessary to tell a customer no, and if you manage to do it politely, it won’t burn any bridges.