I usually tell clients and my mompreneur colleagues that “No” is great word for setting limits and expectations, and creating boundaries. These are all very important in business. But there is one more word, I argue, needs to be brought back into vogue by retailers and customer service agents around the world. The power of the word “Yes” speaks to building relationships, fostering empathy and creating a circle of trust.
Yes is a powerful word. Yes brings us together. It is inspiring and liberating. It is ripe with possibility. Saying yes makes us feel good.
And yet everyday as customers shopping in-person or calling in to “customer service” line, we are consistently encountering a word that polarizes and does nothing to build bridges to understanding—NO. In fact, although saying “No” to a customer or patron may follow corporate or organizational rules to achieve perceived efficiency, it is nothing but limiting and even unkind when viewed by your customers. It can also serve to drive your most valuable customers away.
One popular example usually seen on a menu is the statement “NO substitutions”. As a former restaurant server, I understand food costs can be high. But in this day and age of food sensitivities, allergies, and just to be generally helpful to your customers, this edict just comes across as inflexible. A perfect scenario: A customer orders a clubhouse sandwich. It automatically comes with fries, but trying to be health-conscious the customer asks if half the fries can be substituted for a salad—a common menu option in restaurants. The customer is told no. The customer would likely have paid an upcharge, but was not offered the option.
Make it easy for your customers to be your customers. Don’t put obstacles in their path to a terrific customer experience. Take every opportunity to work with your customers to deliver AWESOME.
This becomes difficult when it is a large corporation with many moving parts trying to work within “handbooks” and “policies”. To those naysayers, consider your customer service agents, managers, and staff becoming empowered by you (owners and operators) to work WITH customers on finding the most beneficial solution for both the company and the customer. Picture employees striving to come to a win-win solution for every customer complaint or inquiry. This is how it should be. And this is how it is for many superstar brands.
Challenge your business to find ways to say yes! Instead of saying no, find out what the customer is looking for and search for ways you can meet that need/want. Even if you can only deliver part of the request, the fact a company representative took the time to evaluate the request and tried to make it work will resonate strongly with your customer for a LONG time.
Empowering your frontline staff with the authority to say YES holds great promise, positive results and profits. I challenge your brand/business to examine company “rules” and “policies” and determine if they create distance between your business and the customer instead of bridges. I will tell you any business can almost guarantee an increase in revenues by 20% or more, with the same traffic – just by looking for the opportunities to say yes, and seizing them with a win-win attitude!
What are some ways your business could say “Yes!” more and really “Wow!” your customers?