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Knowing when to say no to customers is a crucial part of knowing how to say no to customers. Here are some scenarios that will help you create guidelines for your business on when it is appropriate, or even to your advantage, to tell customers no.
Having a sound refund policy helps keep employees and customers on the same page, and can provide your company protection against theft and loss. But sometimes, customers make requests that go against company policy. They may demand a refund on an item without proof of purchase, or ask to get their money back on a pair of shoes that have already been worn for 3 months.
When deciding whether to say no to a refund, follow these three practical steps:
If you know that you need say no to a customer after following these steps, practice being empathetic but resolute in your response. By using your decision to inform how your company handles similar situations in the future, you will create consistency in your customer service, and will help keep customers from feeling like your company practices are unfair.
Here is an example of how you might say no to a customer who is asking for a refund that you cannot give them:
I’m very sorry that you were unhappy with our product.
Unfortunately, our return policy allows for all merchandise to be returned up to 90 days after purchase, in like-new condition. Since your item shows signs of heavy use, we will not be able to refund you. Here is the link to our refund policy in case you need to reference it in the future: [INSERT LINK].
I can, however, provide you with in-store credit at 20% off the initial value of your item. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.
Customer Service Supervisor
No matter who your customers are, chances are they love a good discount. According to independent marketing research firm, the A.C. Nielson Co., 95% of all shoppers like coupons, and 60% actively look for coupons. In general, it’s good to facilitate your customers’ use of coupons.
Even so, you can’t always comply with the discount that your customer is asking for. Exercise your right to say no to a customer when these situations take place:
When your customers ask for a discount that you just can’t give them, try and offer them the next best thing. By keeping your “no” as positive and as helpful as you can, you will renew customer confidence, and keep them coming back.
Here is an example of how you might respond to a customer when you need to say no to a discount:
Thank you for contacting us! I’m very sorry, but we will not be able to honor your discount request.
Unfortunately, the coupon code that you provided for 50% off one item is from over a year ago, and is no longer active in our system. Our coupons are typically valid for 30 days after they are issued. If you are ever unsure of whether a coupon is valid, you can check the dates of validity, which are printed on the bottom.
I have attached a current holiday coupon to this email – it is valid for 30% off your entire purchase from now through the 30th of December. Just enter the code HOLIDAY30 at the checkout, or bring the coupon in to one of our locations.
You can find future promotions on our website at [INSERT LINK], or you can join our mailing list if you would like us to send you offers. Please let me know if you would like me to add your information to our list.
Customer Service Representative
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Sometimes customers make special requests that you can’t possibly comply with, no matter how much you may want to. The following scenarios are likely to require a “no” as a response:
If in denying your customer’s special request you are complying with company policy, be sure to emphasize how enforcing company policy still works to the customer’s advantage. If you explain how your policies benefit your customer and not just your business, then your customer will be more receptive and understanding of your reasons for telling them no.
Here is an example of how you might interact with a customer who makes a special request that you cannot fulfill:
Marcos: Hi Elise. I wanted to order some photos of my son’s graduation from your company, but I don’t like the way that some of his hair is sticking out from under his cap. Is there any way that you could Photoshop out that piece of hair?
Elise: I’m sorry, Marcos, but unfortunately we don’t provide custom touch-ups to the photos that we offer. This is so that we can make sure that all our customers receive their prints in a timely manner.
Elise: I may have a solution for you: if you are interested in finding a third-party photo editor, you can choose the option of buying a digital download of your photo for $29.99. That way you can edit the image in any way that you would like, and you are free to print it as many times as you want.
Marcos: That might work.
Elise: Great, I’m glad! Is there anything else that I can assist you with today?
Marcos: No, that’s it. Thanks.
Elise: No problem. Thank you for contacting us, and have a great day!
There can be a lot of gray area when it comes to when to say no to customers. On one hand, making exceptions to the rule for a customer’s sake can leave an exceptional impression of your company’s service. On the other, constantly making exceptions to rules that are intended to protect your business can have unintended consequences, and might do more harm than good. By reflecting on these scenarios, you can help define what works for your company, and guide your customer service team into knowing when to say no, not just how to say it.
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