Customer Service Tip: 5 Tactics for Saying ‘No’ with Compassion

Faith Ocampo Published on October 6, 2016

As much as possible, every brand wants to give all their customers a great experience. However, there are times when you really have to say no to their requests.

customer service tip call center agent crossing fingers

For call center agents who are trained to always delight the customer, having to say “no” can be difficult. It’s often hard to find the balance between delivering bad news while still optimizing the customer experience. Thus, the art of delivering difficult messages must be part of your customer service training.

Below are some examples of unreasonable customer requests.

  • Products You Don’t Offer

    All customers can name at least one feature, product, or service that would improve their experiences, but you can’t always grant their wishes. Often, it’s a question of whether their demands are aligned with your brand image. If customers are asking you to move into an entirely different direction and you’re not prepared to do so, it may be best to decline their requests.

  • Unfair Requests

    It’s not uncommon for customers to ask for small favors every now and then. Often, these are harmless requests, but in some cases, you’ll also encounter unreasonable ones. If some of these demands may harm your other clients or employees, you should uphold your company’s policies as a way to protect all your constituents.

  • Suspicious Payment Methods

    Typically, brands offer various payment methods to make everything convenient for customers. However, they also have to consider whether these payment mechanisms would be good for the company. For instance, if an installment option is off the table and a customer insists on paying in chunks, you need to refuse in order to protect your organization.

Saying No with Compassion

Saying no to customers will always be an uncomfortable challenge for all customer service reps. Here are five tips to let down your customers gently without ruining their entire brand experience.

  1. Acknowledge the Request

    customer service tip call center agent speaking to customer on the phone

    When customers are asking for something, show them that you’re interested by listening carefully. Try to understand what the customer wants, and why they want it. Doing so not only helps you assess whether you can grant their request, it also demonstrates that you care about what they have to say.

    If you truly have to say no, make sure to clearly explain to the customer why you’re declining their request, but be wary of the tone you use. Don’t be condescending; instead, be empathic and courteous.

    Opening with thanks can help soften the blow of rejecting their request. Doing it in a genuine also helps make the customer feel validated as you do not sound like you are just responding in a scripted way and show the value that they hold for you.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations

    customer service tip call center agent talking to customer on the phone
    Sometimes, customers ask for more because you’ve set their expectations too high. That’s why it’s important not to make any promises if you’re not confident you can deliver. Otherwise, you’ll end up disappointing a lot of people.

    To avoid this, always be honest with your customers. Let them know that their requests are understandable, but that you can’t make them happen just yet.

    However, do emphasize that your brand keeps working to improve its performance, products, and services. But when you say no, it’s important that your team understands why something is against your policies. Not knowing why you’re declining can just get customers more frustrated.

  3. Propose an Alternative

    customer service tip agent giving options to call center caller

    Never leave your customers hanging. If you have to decline some of their demands, be prepared to recommend the best possible alternatives. You may not be able to give them exactly what they want, but offering something close to their expectations can instantly improve the situation.

    Offering other services your company can provide might be able to create a workaround for their goal. If you genuinely care about your customers, you’ll help them find another credible option to get their requests done. By doing so the customer will feel grateful that you cared for them and found them another business to turn to.

    Don’t feel bad for losing that customer if you couldn’t initially fulfill their needs. You ended your relationship on a positive note and avoided a potentially bad review which in turn could have lost you a lot more.

    Follow up about your referral with both the customer and the business itself. You shouldn’t let them go without further communication. Following up once in a while to see how they are doing with the competitor will show the customer that you still care about them and are ready to help when needed.

  4. Be Professional and Tactful

    customer service tip busy call center agent speaking

    Professionalism and tact can go a long way when it comes to enhancing the customer experience. Even though the customer isn’t always right, there are effective ways to let them know this without embarrassing them.

    Additionally, try to reframe your “no” using positive language. Call center agents may use lines such as, “While we don’t currently offer this feature, we’ll be looking closely at how we can incorporate this into our future updates.”

    Positive language keeps your doors open for possible future interactions, your customers won’t feel that it’s a waste of time to get in touch with your brand.

    Moreover, involving the customer in the resolution can help them empathize with you and improve customer relationships. Asking things like “What do you think would be a good solution?” and “How does that sound to you?” can bring them into the conversation and show that you are taking customer satisfaction seriously.

  5. Respond Quickly


    customer service tip serious busy call center agent holding hand to laptop screen

    Responding to customer requests quicklyโ€”even if you’ll have to decline themโ€”indicates that you prioritize their needs. Often, people just want to know that someone is listening to them. Small touches like calling your customers by their names and phrases such as “I understand” can go a long way. Whatever the issue is, it’s important enough to take time out of their day to contact you. Replying quickly helps them feel heard.

    Speed is not only a reflection of your competence. It also shows that you’re willing to help customers get the best experience from your services. But, don’t do things too quickly, it can make people wonder if their messages are being read or listened to. It’s okay to let non-urgent emails sit a few extra minutes, but respond fast on important ones.

When you combine these techniques you can make your “no’ into something positive. Having to reject a customer doesn’t mean you’re going to lose them forever. You can still retain their trust and empathy if you show positive interaction with them. The next big thing to giving them what they want is making them feel that they’re taken seriously by your company.

Get in touch with an outsourcing company that values customer service and brand retention. Find the best business solutions with Open Access BPO’s multichannel services that speak your customers’ language. Contact us today.

 

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Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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Even if you've set your brand to constantly delight your customers, there are times when you have to say no to their requests.

Master the art of saying "no" with compassion.!

Here are 5 tips for letting down your customers gently without ruining their entire #BrandExperience: https://www.openaccessbpo.com/blog/customer-service-tip-5-tactics-saying-no-compassion/

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