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A few tips on how to effectively say “No”

Saying no to a customer is perhaps the most difficult and daunting task for a customer service associate. But there are scenarios where there is no other alternative for an agent but to utter those words. For instance, when your product does not have the feature that the customer is asking for or in case of expiration of the refund period. For an agent, it might seem that they are letting the customer down and working against his/her goal as a customer support associate.

One way they can avoid this guilt is by presenting the negative statement in a way that is palatable and friendly. A direct, empathetic, and a constructive ‘no’ can leave a positive impression in the mind of the customer and it goes a long way towards earning the trust of your customer. Many customer support outsourcing companies give proper training to their executive on how to present a negative statement. For instance, these agents use phrases such as “sorry for the inconvenience” etc. The following are a few tips on how to effectively say ‘no’ to your customers without upsetting the customers.

Be crystal clear

It is always tempting to equivocate while saying no to a customer just to make it more bearable for the customer. But this sort of hesitation can actually cost more.Use of vague symbolism can put the customer in a state of confusion as well. While delivering a negative comment one must be direct and accurate with the information.

The right tone

Most of the top reliable customer support outsourcing companies train their agents to use a friendly and empathetic tone to address their customers. One should also be polite and professional. Be positive but avoid being cheerful as it might come off as insincere. And though it may be natural to apologize but keep the use of the word “sorry” to a bare minimum and don’t use it unless extremely necessary.


The agent should take time to explain the real cause behind the negative response. And it is his duty to make sure that the customer has truly understood the reason so as to avoid miscommunication and future disputes. Before directly saying ‘no’, do try to provide an alternative to the customer’s request. Think on the spot if there are any other means to achieve what the customer is requesting. Focusing on possible alternatives rather than on what cannot be done will impart a sense of positivity to the conversation and it also increases the likelihood of a productive outcome.

Know when to stop and let go

No matter how hard you try there will always be an unhappy customer. One cannot hope to satisfy and heed to everyone’s need. It is futile. Sometimes there will be customers who are going to find a better service somewhere else and at that point in time, the best thing one can do is, to be honest. To know when to let go also means not accepting abuse. If an unsatisfied customer resorts to hurling abuses after hearing ‘no’ then the best thing in that situation would be to drop down the receiver and end the call. You cannot reason with an immature person. It’s pointless to do so.

Customers are the reason that a business exists. This is important to know before rejecting a demand from the customer. Also, in the same note, it is next to impossible to cater to each and every whim of your customer. This is going to drive the business into bankruptcy. Therefore, the best businesses are those that have a proper roadmap on how to avoid this seemingly impossible conundrum altogether.
Understanding the denial mechanism is key to approach these difficult situations. There are many experienced veteran agents in the customer support outsourcing companies that have devised their own ways to tackle these problems. An amateur agent is not going to be of much help in these critical situations unless he/she has proper training.

Therefore, it is in favor of the businesses to create a roadmap to counter these situations and I believe the above-mentioned pointers can be a good reference point to start off.

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