How to say no while still saying yes

When a customer calls us it’s because they need something. They want to reset a password, pay an account or just ask a question. So in this case the old adage “the customer is always right” doesn’t quite fit. If they really were always right and knew everything they could do these things themselves without us. But though they may not always be right they need to feel as though they are. No one likes to feel stupid and no one likes to hear the word no. That is why we choose our words so carefully when taking calls.

Obviously we can’t always give them everything they want. Especially when what they want is something we don’t have the power to provide. So how do you tell the caller “yes” when the real answer is “no”? We offer an alternative. It might not be the answer they were after but it is an answer all the same and one that is still positive and beneficial to them.

A common example might be, “I’m busy right now can you call me at 9pm when I’m free?”

It’s a simple request and one the consumer no doubt feels is reasonable. However the team they have called closes the lines at 8pm. So instead of saying no we offer an alternative.

“I can schedule a call back for our latest possible time in the evening at 7.45pm does that work for you?”

If you’re lucky it will work for them and a positive outcome is reached. Unfortunately a lot of the time an alternative may not quite fit and so we try again. We offer the option to call on another day, we provide them with an email address, a fax number or a social media page. We give them options. The more options we have the more alternatives to the word “no” we have and the more likely we are to keep the customer happy.

Just as much as customers don’t like to hear the word “no” our agents don’t like to say it. Starting an interaction with a negative response like this can put you on the fast road to an escalated call. The alternative solutions are not only there to make the customer’s life easier but they make our agent’s jobs easier too. Utilizing the tools and options provided we work with our customer’s to turn what should be a no into a yes.