Let customers down gracefully.

Something I have learned from working in and advising people on customer service is that it is important to let customers down gracefully. I always tell my clients and their employees that customers are interested in hearing what you can do for them. What you cannot do for them is a waste of their time – it doesn’t matter.

With that in mind, it is important to train employees to let customers down gracefully. The answer should never stop at no. And when you do have to say no, have plenty to say right after it. Building a culture that stresses the importance of never saying no will vastly improve the way your customers think about your company and the service you provide. Nothing seems to impress customers more than particular companies going above and beyond to meet their customers’ requests and help them out whenever possible – even if it isn’t standard procedure.

Providing alternatives can be a simple process. The gestures don’t usually have to be grand or flashy – they just have to be thoughtful. Customer service representatives have to think about what the customer asked and compare that to what they are empowered to provide. They should be able and willing to work with their team members and managers to do what they can for the customer. Anything an employee can do to turn a no into an opportunity for service excellence is a step in the right direction.

Customers tend to remember when you do go that extra distance for them. They remember it when they go to renew their service or repurchase and they remember it when their friends ask for recommendations or advice.

2 Responses to “Let customers down gracefully.”

  1. Glenn said:

    Jul 20, 08 at 6:26 pm

    Actually, I’d just eliminate the word, “No,” from my vocabulary. In some situations perhaps the following would work, “We can’t do that, but we can do this…” Or, “we can’t do that, but I know someone who can….”

    The problem is, people usually stop listening immediately upon hearing the “n” word. So avoid using it whenever possible.



  2. Service Untitled said:

    Jul 20, 08 at 11:02 pm


    Thanks for your comment! Eliminating no from one’s vocabulary is a great step. Your suggestions are right on. 🙂