If you find it hard to get customers to accept your word as final and if too many of your customers just go over your head to talk to a supervisor who will tell the customer the exact same thing, you need to read this.
I have for you five little tricks that I share in my onsite de-escalation workshops. These ideas will help you be far more successful in getting customers to accept your word as final.
1. Show regret.
Your words of regret help you come across as genuinely concerned and helpful. When customers feel you’re concerned and willing to help, they’re more likely to accept your word as final. Saying something like, “I can appreciate how frustrating this must be for you” is perfect.
2. Sound confident.
It’s important that you sound confident when you tell the customer what you can’t do. Otherwise, some customers won’t take your word as final. They’ll push and ask to talk to someone higher up. Here are some of my tips for sounding confident.
- Slow down a bit.
- Enunciate and speak clearly.
- Relax. (Consciously try to release tension and anxiety.)
3. Assertively make your point.
My definition of assertive is: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean when you say it. Say ‘no’ or refuse the request by just saying what needs to be said. Here’s one way to make your point with assertiveness:
“I can appreciate how frustrating this must be for you. We cannot cover this because it is beyond the scope of your warranty. Your warranty covers damage caused by a single incident. It does not cover stains and damage from normal wear.”
4. Make sure you don’t overpromise.
Two weeks ago my flight to Austin canceled due to tornadoes in Tulsa, where I live. I called my hotel to cancel the reservation and was told that I’d still have to pay for one night’s stay because I didn’t cancel 72 hours in advance.
The one-night hotel rate was nearly $300. Of course, I didn’t want to pay it. So I pressed, “Can’t you make an exception? I want to be there, but my flight was canceled due to severe storms in my area.”
The employee was smart and responded without overpromising:
“I’ve canceled your reservation, and I’ve put a note here stating that weather is the reason for cancellation. The policy is guests must cancel 72 hours in advance, or they’ll incur a cancellation fee. But, the hotel can choose to make an exception. Please understand, though, that waiving the fee is the sole discretion of the hotel.”
I was impressed. The employee didn’t overpromise, so there was no need for me to get upset if the final answer was that the cancellation fee indeed would stick.
5. Prepare in advance.
When I managed a call center, I had my employees come up with the top 20 reasons they had to say ‘no’ or refuse a customer’s request. Then, in teams, I had my people recall, or in some cases develop, their best responses to these situations.
In the large group with all employees, we decided on the absolute best ways to deliver bad news, refuse a request or say ‘no.’ Then we typed up all of the situations and responses and shared them with the team.
This exercise gave us immediate responses to the most challenging interactions, and it boosted the confidence of the entire team.
If customers sense weakness or a crack in your response, many will just seek to go over your head. Any one of these tricks alone will boost your success in getting customers to accept your word as final. But combined, you’ll be unstoppable!