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First and foremost let us acknowledge that "The Customer is Always Right” is wrong. While we are at it, let us also acknowledge that “Customer is King” is also wrong. There we said it!

As business owners and leaders or even as managers, we get so anxious about upsetting the apple cart that we will say anything and do everything, if it mean that we can avoid a difficult discussion especially if it means losing customers.  Understanding your company’s aversion to saying “No”:


Saying “No” does not immediately mean that you're going to get a bad reputation.

The reality is that no customer is going to think or say that; if you have explained WHY you cannot fulfill their request, and that you are doing so much to ensure they get the best value for their money. 

Being in a situation where your customer or his business is completely dependent on you is a fantastic place to be and a great problem to have. Maybe it's time to reset his high expectations of what your company can and cannot do. 

It can be hard for any business owner to be put in a situation where they might lose business and be tempted to stretch themselves to accommodate a request. If the request is outside company policies or scope of work or company capabilities, it is always better to communicate it. 

Let us first understand this “aggrieved” Customer 


When a prospect or client (consumer) needs to contact a company or company support they expect them to say “YES” to everything they have to say. In short they say “Jump” and the company should say “How High?”

Children when they are told “No” either speak to the other parent (in the case of business) they talk to another company representation. They throw a tantrum (in the case of business) they write nasty emails or vent their frustration on Social Media.

They get emotional with company representatives. They escalate to a manager or the owner of the business. They threaten to take their business to another company

All of these behaviour can be detrimental to your company's reputation. Should this fear paralyse you from saying “No”? Well, not if you manage the situation with Clarity, Authenticity and Emotional Maturity.


Everyone has different levels of Clarity of Thought and levels of Communication ability. Asking pertinent questions will provide you with the necessary clarity towards understanding what customers want; why they want it; and how you might be able to either solve the problem or provide an alternative solution

  • Honesty

Sometimes you will not be able to give them what they want, in those cases it is important to be honestly up front and in the most polite manner possible

Just because customers many not be aware or able to understand your product the same way as you do; does not mean that you shouldn’t try to explain why you cannot deliver to their request. By explaining the reasons behind your product/ solution, you might find that customers will come up with an alternative solution to their problem just by talking to you. Alternatively you could the provide them with different solutions

Every time you say “No” you are sending a message that you don’t want to help (even if something cannot be done). You must always use a positive way to communicate it. If you have to refuse, make sure you're polite

Even if you cannot give them what they want, offering an alternative helps… Even if it won’t work for them. Not only will your minimise the number of irate customers; they will appreciate your effort

  • Combat Threats with Empathy

It's easy for any conversation to escalate into something ugly. The key is not to mirror the behaviour but to defuse the situation with Empathy. Whether you can solve their problem or not is less important than customers walking away pleased that someone listened to them

Sometimes you will be able to help, in those cases it is important to tell you customer How the next steps will pan out so that they are aware about what to expect and when they can expect it

Follow-up with them to see if they need any further help or if you have “good news” for them (e.g. your company has implemented their suggestion)


Sometimes, no matter what you say or do is going to change an unhappy, irate customer. These customers cannot and will not accept anything other then their own version of events and end results. Letting go of such customers (after the intervention of management) might be the best way forward for all concerned.  You don’t need to say “Yes” every time nor should you be afraid to say “No” and walk way.

Trigger Worldwide is a Brand Marketing Agency, built specifically for businesses to create Sustainable Growth. Our proprietary tools and process methodologies harness Technology, Creativity & Innovation, leverage Economic Drivers and Consumer Beliefs to help businesses overcome marketing inefficiencies and achieve their Growth Agendas.


~ Trigger Worldwide

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