No! is the loneliest answer. No! is a relationship killer. No! is a word that should be placed on an island where only those brave enough to chart the depths of misty waters should dare capture its power.
I’m going to show you ways to coach your customer facing employees away from killing relationships and halting growth.
From the time we are toddlers all the way through our adolescence we; as part of our human nature have a love-hate relationship with the word “no.” It makes you feel belittled, condescended and less important. Whether for just cause or not; the fact remains that nobody likes to be told, “No.”
Science proves that hearing or even seeing the word can invoke a myriad of negative reactions in our brain. Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D. says, “If I were to put you into an MRI scanner—a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain—and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.” The word has intrinsic power to reroute the course of your customer experience that you are working so hard to preserve.
But, how then do you communicate to a customer that they cannot have everything they want?
I’m glad you asked. Finding ways to navigate a potentially disappointing outcome for a customer is never easy. Making it 10x as hard is removing the simplest of answers, No. Challenging your staff to communicate in other ways forces them to become more of solutions engineer rather than an order taker.
Imagine this scenario for further example:
You walk into your bank and request to have your account statements processed in a certain way that would make it easier for you to access anywhere you are rather than waiting to get home and reconcile your statements. To you, this seems like a simplistic and modest request. From the bank, they have policies and procedures that govern how each account can receive its statements. The type of account you are currently in only allows you to receive paper statements.
The bank representative can deliver this information to you in 1 of many ways. I’ll bet you however that the common response you will get from most customer service agents out there will be something like this:
“I’m sorry Mr. Jones, but we cannot process your request to receive online statements because the account type you currently have only allows us to give you paper statements.”
I’ve highlighted a few commonly used words in interactions such as these. Now, this may seem like a polite approach, I mean…they didn’t use the word ‘NO’ right? That is true, but instead they replaced the word ‘No’ with other negatively associated words like: I’m sorry, cannot, and only allows. These are limiting, negative words that only communicate to a customer what you are incapable of doing. Customers today are not concerned with what you are ‘incapable’ of doing and more ready to hear what you ‘can’ do for them.
Here is a much better response to the same problem:
“Mr. Jones, that seems like it would be a huge time saver for you to be able to access your statements online from wherever you are. I can see how this would truly benefit you since you travel so often. Here’s what we can set up for you: Our platinum checking account is perfect for customers just like you who want to have more freedom and control of how they do their banking. I also see that you commonly carry a monthly balance which would more than qualify your account to upgrade to the platinum. How about we move your account type to the more option based Platinum Checking and I’ll make sure you get your account statements emailed to you once a month. How does that sound?”
The challenge is to reframe the mindset of your Customer Service team to actually believe they are “Solutions Engineers.” This is a term I use to better describe the functions of what is expected from my Customer Service staff. Providing an elevated level of customer service interactions requires a person to constantly be looking for the ability to find solutions for your customers. If a readily available, cookie-cutter option is not at hand, that is where the “engineers” part comes into play. Matching solutions to properly fitted requests is a job anybody with a high school education can accomplish. However, properly engineering a customer solution for a client with specific and unique requests is a key indicator of a team with elevated levels of service.
Regardless of how simple or cookie-cutter the solution is…the key is to do it in such a way that the client believes he/she just received a special, custom made solution just for them. Exclusivity is a form of flattery. Make your customers feel as though they are VIPs.
Remember, find ways to educate, and reform your conversations without using the ‘NO.’ Find a Win-Win solution that leaves your customers feeling valued and appreciated.