The Power of Saying "No."

Do you and your staff realize the incredible power and result that comes with saying, "No" to a customer? It's not what you think.

The Power of Saying "No."

Customer service includes friendly, knowledgeable employees doing their best to work with customers along with attention to detail. (Photo: NSSF)

Do you and your staff realize the incredible power and result that comes with saying, "No" to a customer?

While it may, at times, be refreshing to tell a surly, rude or otherwise unhappy customer you don't have a product in stock or can't help them with their question, you're still at a disadvantage by doing so.

Whether you're dealing with Happy Harry or Sourpuss Steve, saying "No" immediately does one thing: it creates a negative in their mind about you and your store.

Years ago when I worked in our family's grocery store, I remember my uncle hated to say no. If someone asked whether we had a specific canned good or produce, or could get something in the dairy section, he typically would say, "We don't have that but let me check on whether I can order it for you." Or if he knew for sure that he could get it, he would say so and ask how much they wanted. And then he'd order it.

The customer was happy because she knew he had worked with her to help her, instead of throwing up a roadblock.

More recently, I went into our local running store to check on some new kicks for my old dogs. I needed something specific for my walking and jogging. Instead of saying, "No, we don't have those," the young associate offered a couple of suggestions, showed me the shoes on the display rack, and said two of them most likely would suit my needs. I ended up buying one and, as he said, they work great.

I also have been in stores hanging out or shopping while listening to the staff and customers. Occasionally a customer will ask about a specific product or service, and be met with a, "No, sorry, we don't." And ... nothing else.

No offer to order it. No offer to call another local store to see if they could possibly help. Nothing. Just a roadblock. And that customer, I would believe, thinks he'll have to go elsewhere or shop online to get what he wants. Often, he or she may not be back to Randy Roadblock's store.

As far as contacting another store, that may sound insane to send a customer to a competitor. But if you're confident in your store's goods and services, and truly want to help a customer, make that suggestion. I've seen that happen, and it usually goes like this:

"I'm sorry, we don't have that. I can order it for you. If you need it right now, I believe Slimy Pete's Outdoors carries it. I know Pete, so let me call to see if he has it in stock. That way it would save you a trip if he doesn't have it. If he does, we'll be glad to help you install it or set it up, or anything else you might need. Hang on and I'll call now."

Rising tides lift all boats? That's an old cliche but it's true.

Nancy Reagan advised us to "Just say no" to drugs. She wasn't talking about your customers. Say yes to them and help them find what the want or need. They'll remember that and come back for more.


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