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Kerry Lee Doehr

The Two Things That Should Happen When You Have to Tell a Customer 'No'

While professionals in the service industry are widely trained for the ability to try and say "yes" as much as possible to a client, there are times we have to say "no."

We've all been there.  One of the worst things a customer can hear as an excuse for "no" is, "Sorry, but there is nothing further I can do." 

This statement--or the "feel" of a statement similar to it--does more than just aggravate a customer and elevate their frustration or anger level; it seeks to destroy the relationship completely.  And that's where most in customer service go askew--they focus on trying to reconcile the "issue," rather than the relationship.
In order to help repair the relationship, here are two recommended first steps:

1.  Educate the customer and explain the reason for "no."  Studies have found that customer's anger and frustration levels drop when they are included on the reason behind the situation. It also shows you as sensitive, treating them as a human being with the greatest ability humans have to connect and get along: the ability of reason.

2.  Offer the customer something else to offset their dissatisfaction and disappointment. This is the real step in making an effort to repair the relationship. 

For every business, this step may look different.  For hotel/hospitality businesses, it may be an upgrade to another room, a special package, or a pass to an area that they wouldn't normally be able to have. For a caterer or other type of business, it may be another special service or touch on their wedding day or service with you.

This action will only work if you invest in training your team, communicate a clear policy and empower your staff on the front lines to implement this whenever needed.

If you remember to shift trying to repair the "issue" into trying to reconcile the relationship, you are investing in long-term clients and revenue. A happy customer is a repeat customer --and/or a "walking billboard" of endorsements and referrals to you for others to book you, too.

More from Kerry Lee Doehr:

Are You a Vendor or Event Partner?

The Power of 'Strategic Narrative' for Your Business

Event Industry Ethics: When Should Unused Fees Be Refunded?

Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."

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