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Saying No in a Positive way

Author jwalters
#1 | Posted: 6 Aug 2009 20:18 
Hey everyone! I need help training my service associates on ways to say no to customres using positive words. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 11 Aug 2009 10:12 
Yes, we have no bananas...we have no bananas today.
You say tomayto, I say tomahto, let's call the whole thing off.

What I have found always carry the most impact is sharing of knowledge from those who have been there/done that. Which is what brought you here. :-)

Actually, my suggestion is that you pull your team together (or some representative portion thereof), and facilitate a discussion on the topic. Some wonderful nuggets will come out of this...nuggets that the entire team can find opportunities to use - using the language (terminology) that your team already knows. You may also uncover/discover some not so wonderful nuggets...so you then have the opportunity to quash those.

If you can poll the entire team at once, it will help enforce the importance of this issue, and your team will probably then self-police. If you can't, perhaps your 'representative portion' can serve in 'leader' roles...relay the information/nuggets they've learned to their portion of the team members...thereby encompassing all.

Then I would continue to have regular discussions on topic...make it fun...so that members keep bringing the best of the best to the table and everyone gets to hear and ultimately have opportunities to use those experiential learnings.

Good luck!

Author umesh_ray
#3 | Posted: 13 Aug 2009 05:40 
Saying NO to a customer is something you cannot imagine into your business structure, or else you loose your customer. Obviously you do not have all that the customer looking at .The right way of saying NO is UNFORTUNATELY. But always remember as a principle if you are in a customer service business, when you tell your customer the word "Unfortunately Sir you are at the wrong dept or service, or we unable to fullfil your request" always complete your conversation the reason why you cannot fullfil the request and more important an alternate solution if you have one on your shelf or another department within the same company who will be able to handle the customer.

Always put you into the customer shoe. If someone says NO to you, your response is always SO WHAT??? Where do I go Now? What do I do?

Always have an answer or a way of satisfaction to your customer when you say you cannot provide what he's looking for.

Author KarenSB
#4 | Posted: 13 Aug 2009 07:14 
I must, respectfully, disagree. 'No' is a perfectly acceptable response, and I not only can well "imagine" it into my business structure, I also use it as needed. Further, my staff is authorized to use it as well.

There are times when a customer wants you to go where policies, ethics, morals and values, and even resources and talent do not allow you to go (organizationally and/or personally). And sometimes, 'no' is what needs to be said, specifically and exactly.

I'm sorry umesh, but this is the real world we are dealing with, and I've got to be real too. Suggestive, racial, sexual or violent statements or advances cannot be tolerated. Unfortunately, UNFORTUNATELY just doesn't cut it when an aggressor asserts him/herself. And yes, these issues run rampant in the business world.

Even when everyone is behaving professionally, sometimes one organization must simply say 'no' to another.

Of course for the greatest percentage of every negative transaction we do not simply say 'no.' It must, of course, all depend on the circumstance(s). Of course we use 'unfortunately'; 'at this time it is not feasible'; 'that is a great suggestion, and I will bring it to the team for further discussion'; and all sorts of other wiggly-wormy nice-nice words. Because we are CSM, we are empathetic, we are understanding, we are open to novel approaches and potential new processes and products. Of course we shy away from NO.

But 'no' should never, cannot ever, be considered taboo. It is perfectly acceptable, and it must remain in our vocabulary.


Author ayaree
#5 | Posted: 9 Sep 2009 16:50 
Umesh, are you seeing a context where a "no" is needed, but different terms are used? When you talk about the "unfortunately..." that suggests that you do see the need for "no" and that you realize it needs to be handled correctly. For that reason, not sure why you are saying "no" cannot be imagined into a business structure. What this original question is talking about is how to take the "no" and turn it into a positive.

Karen says that "no" is part of a business sometimes and explains some reasons for it. I see "no" as a necessity sometimes because procedure or inftrastructure or cost management (whatever the strongest root is) may not allow a specific request of a customer to be actioned.

Sometimes the reason behind a "no" is as simple as "it is going to cost me too much to do that just to keep him happy, I am here to make money and maintain my position in the market, and I will not be making the majority of customers happy for long if I complied with this 'unthinkable' request." There are even times when a business can decide it actually wants to FIRE a customer, as strange as that sounds. That's because a particular customer can be a rock in a plastic bag - unnatural to the environment of the fish - stuck to the tail of the fish, and the business fish is being weighted down by this plastic bag that does not belong here, and the fish could be swimming freely and naturally into an environment best suited to it for a good existence.

Delivering a "no" is not always as extreme as having to fire a customer, but the reasons for the "no" are not that different from my poetry with the fish and the unwelcome plastic bag in its waters. By discussing the "no" in customer service, we're not talking about indiscriminately saying "no" or mistreating customers, in this of all quasi-reviving times. We're trying to find a dialogue together on how to deliver a "no" on what our company will do in a manner that is smooth and continuously pleasing, through savvy, through the "instead" - the "instead" that can be heard by the customer.

[Well, we don't have THAT as an option, what we have is a better alternative for you.....]. [We don't have that EXACT option, but what we have as a next best alternative for you is.....]. [That's not the route I can take, but I've got an excellent idea about something I have offered to people who've asked that question.....] [I know, I'm sorry it's not in the package, but you know, I think what you're going to like in its place is..........]

The square-bracketed phrases above is stuff I imagine to be the kind of conversation-smoothing around the concept of NO that JWalters was originally talking about. Not necessarily useful in all contexts, but I am only trying to touch on the style of a positive NO context. J is looking for ideas on how to get that NO going in a positive way and duplicating that skill across a group, so that there is a plural confidence in having to face these situations.

The group session idea that Karen talked about is on that wavelength. Even if her interpretation of the "group session" does not sing the tune J is looking for, the idea of getting people together to learn and relearn how to say NO effectively is still the first way to start. There are training facilitators who can interpret just about anything under the sun and train back to people what to do - and those trainers need to make their living. Without assuming the cost of training specialists brought in house, then the best heads of management need to roll up their sleeves and explore with the staff how to arrive at best habits to form on how to say NO and yet be people that deliver for customers, according to their understanding of what can and cannot be done in response to a request that should be a "no."

Author jwalters
#6 | Posted: 10 Sep 2009 15:16 
Thank you all for your great comments and feedback. It was very helpful.

Author ayaree
#7 | Posted: 15 Sep 2009 19:51 
J, I'm glad you found something worthwhile in this conversation. Also particularly glad that you came back and inspected and replied on what was offered. THAT is something we like here, even when contributions to a question have not been satisfying enough.

Author BrianCulley
#8 | Posted: 18 Sep 2009 22:20 
Educating your customers on ways you can and can't help them can be a useful tool. Before saying no explore the options with them and help them understand your position.
We would all like to say yes to customers and give them everything they want, unfortunately this is seldom possible in business. We can only do what we can and most people will understand this when the situation is properly explained.
However there are just some customers that will not take no for an answer and will try to take advantage of you. You must be courteous and tell them your position and stick to your game plan.
Proper training for management and employees is crucial. I like Karen's group brain trust idea, many times your employees can be very helpful in providing solutions for these difficult situations you face.

Author slpshane
#9 | Posted: 5 Oct 2009 12:37 
I have no problem with the word 'no', however, the reaction of the customer is usually (not always) determined by the approach taken during the conversation. For example, if I approach a customer and simply say 'no, I can't do that', then the customer is left feeling that they have no where to turn. I typically try to say things like:
-Here's what I can do.
-I think you'll understand that we can't do that, however, I'm willing to...
-I understand your frustration, but based on the circumstances, I don't think we'll be able to accommodate you.

I usually ask them to walk me through the situation (even if I've already been informed by a Co-Worker) and try to be as empathetic as possible during their story.

At times, when a 'no' is warranted, I am firm and to the point. Example:
-I am unable to return that item, it is clearly damaged.
-I know you're upset, but if you aren't able to calm down, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the property.
-Our Co-Worker is correct, we aren't able to meet your request.

Unfortunately, we will always have those who will throw a fit and try to use their words/volume to get their way...usually, those are the people I end up asking to leave.

The customer isn't always right...however, sometimes the policies aren't either. A fair approach to conflict resolution is vital. As is allowing the customer to climb 'anger mountain'.

Author nelsonclassic
#10 | Posted: 9 Nov 2009 03:59 
Hello friend,
Positive No, a proven technique that anyone can learn.
I always believe that using the word "no" can actually help in advancing our career and getting noticed as someone who is decisive, and values their time.
I had a same problem because of which I faced many problems in my home and in my work also.Then one of my friend suggested a book "The Power of a Positive No" by William Ury which includes the simple three-step method for saying a Positive No.
One best method of saying no is be positive in your attitude,while denying anything.


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 Saying No in a Positive way

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