The World is in some kind of a magic circle where telling someone “no” is a no-no.

It makes us all play a game of expressing something in a different tone and not saying what we really need to say. This is troublesome, as companies who never say no will end up losing customer.

There will be many situations where it is necessary to deliver a firm “no” to a customer, and we’ve prepared a guide to help you do just that.

Let’s start with something not so obvious – do not use the word “No” when saying no.

It may sound strange, but it’s the best advice you could get on the topic. Get your point across, and “no” will come up in their heads without you uttering it.

Set Clear Expectations

Everyone knows that saying no it’s not easy, and does not feel “right”.

However, saying no can be easily avoided. It is up to you to set up clear expectations and with them, you won’t even need to say no. Customers will know what to expect and won’t ask for impossible features.

Underpromise and overdeliver. That’s the way to go. Don’t make promises you won’t be able to honor and customers won’t ask for impossible things.

Think of Creative Solutions

Don’t act impulsively and don’t say “no” as soon as the customer asks for something you cannot provide.

Instead, ask yourself these simple questions before saying no:

  • Do I fully understand the customer’s side?
  • What is their goal and how can I help them achieving it?
  • Is our product working as it’s supposed to be? Is it doing what we promised it would do?
  • Is there an alternative solution I can suggest?
  • Can someone else from the company help me fix the issue?

How to Say NO

If you’ve answered all the questions above and did not find a solution that will fit both sides, then you have to come forth and explain to the customer that you’re unable to fulfill their request. It is time to say no.

Consider the following tips when approaching those customers to achieve the least painful experience:

  • Respond on time. Customers value quick responses. Make sure to reply to their message within 24 hours or sooner. Even if you still don’t have the final answer, let them know you’re working on it.
  • Be honest. Trust is built with honesty. Make sure the customers know what you’ve done to try and fix the issue and explain all the reasons why the feature they’re asking for is not available and if it will be available at some point in future and even suggesting a possible alternative, even if it’s a competitor.
  • Phrasing! As Archer loves to say. Pay attention to how you deliver your response. If you just say “No, we cannot provide that” it may come off as rude and show that you lack interest in fixing the issue. Use positive tone, polite words and comforting phrases.
  • Pay attention. Don’t miss out an important details before you say no. Also, devoting the time to hear out a customer, even if you know you can’t help them, will certainly imply that you care for their problems but simply cannot help them at the moment.
  • Be sincere. Apologize if you have something to apologize for. Empty apologies mean nothing, stop handing them out like a handout.