As you conduct business, you may have a client or customer request something you don’t want to do or can’t do. Denying your customer’s request doesn’t have to strain your relationship if you handle it well. Effective options exist that help you say no to your clients or customers in ways that build client relationships while saving you time and money. When you need to deny a request, a key element of the process is communicating your position clearly and sincerely.
Explain Why You’re Denying Your Customer’s Request
Communicating in simple and direct terms why you’re denying your customers’ requests makes it easier for them to understand and accept your denials. If a customer asks for a product your business can’t produce, explain why you can’t produce it. Let’s say you sell specialized mining equipment and a customer asks for a modified version of a product. You can explain that due to high manufacturing costs, it’s not feasible for you to produce it. If your small business doesn’t have the resources to fulfill large orders, you might point out to your customers that being small allows you to help them in other ways, including giving them personalized customer service.
Provide Alternative Solutions After You Deny a Customer Request
After you deny a request, it’s helpful to your customer when you provide an alternative solution. If your business doesn’t offer products or services that meet your customer’s needs, refer them to a business that does. For example, imagine you offer general bookkeeping services and an entrepreneur asks you for advice about financing for their startup. You might refer them to an accounting practice that has expertise in startup financing. Your clients appreciate your honest feedback, and they may reward you with future business and referrals. Additionally, the businesses you refer may return the favour and help you secure new clients.
Show Customers You Take Their Requests Seriously
When you deny your customers’ requests, you can show them you take their requests seriously in other ways. Let’s say a customer wants something you don’t provide now but you have an interest in providing it in the future. You could tell your customers you and your business partner plan to discuss whether it’s feasible to offer what they’re requesting.
Saying no to a customer doesn’t have to mean no forever. Perhaps you own a brick-and-mortar retail business that sells ice hockey protective equipment, and a customer requests a particular type of shin guard you don’t carry. You’re saying no because you don’t handle that brand. But if you’re serious about satisfying your customers, you can let them know you’re checking with your product suppliers about the possibility of taking a special order. You may find you have more demand for the item, and by carrying it, you can generate more cash flow and revenue for your business.
When you give customers explanations or assurances, you should keep them informed of your progress in meeting their requests. If you don’t have one, consider setting up a notification system, such as posting updates about your offerings on your website and business blog or emailing them directly. Hosting a focus group is one way to determine whether to start selling a product after you’ve denied customers’ requests for it. If you host such a group, you can invite your interested customer to participate in the session.
Remind Clients of Your Expertise When You Deny a Request
You may disagree with your clients and need to deny their requests for legal or ethical reasons. When that happens, remind them you have extensive industry experience in the area for which they hired you, that it’s your duty to act in their best interest, and that you must comply with relevant laws and regulations. These are times when saying no directly and confidently is the best answer.
Let’s say you operate a boutique capital management business, and a client pressures you to invest in a company about which they possess inside information. You should explain to your client that you understand securities law thoroughly and believe the transaction constitutes insider trading. What happens? You have a client who’s grateful for your wise counsel about a decision that could have lost them money, damaged their reputation, or put them at risk of violating the law.
Knowing how to say no to a customer in a positive way builds customer relationships that help grow your business. The QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage business on the go. Download the app.