Effective Ways to Deny a Customer’s Request

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Denying a customer’s request doesn’t have to be difficult. Saying no to customers can save your business time and money while building stronger client relationships. When turning customers down, communicate your position clearly and with sincerity.

Provide an Alternative Solution

Provide alternative solutions after you deny a customer’s request. If your business doesn’t offer products or services that adequately meet the needs of your customer, refer them to a business that does. For example, if an entrepreneur requests advice about financing for their startup, you could refer them to an accounting practice that has expertise in this area if you offer general accounting services. Clients appreciate your honest feedback and could reward you with their business in the future. As well, the businesses that you refer could return the favour and eventually help you secure new clients.

Explain Why You Deny a Customer’s Request

Succinctly communicate to the customer why you are choosing to deny their request. If a customer asks for a product that your business is unable to produce, explain why you can’t produce it. For example, if you sell specialized mining equipment, and a customer asks for a modified version of a product, you could explain it is not viable to be produced due to high manufacturing costs. If your small business does not have the resources to fulfill large orders, explain this to customers as well as how being small allows you to help customers in other ways, such as providing personalized customer service.

Show Customers You are Taking Their Request Seriously

If you deny a customer’s request, show that you are taking what they are asking for seriously. Explain that you will work with your business partners to determine if it’s viable to offer what they requesting in the future. For example, if you own an online retail business that sells ice hockey protective equipment, and deny a customer’s request for a particular type of shin guard, explain that you will check with your suppliers about the possibility of offering the product at a later stage. Keep customers informed of your progress — post updates about your offerings on your website and business blog, or email them directly. If you intend to hold a focus group to determine if you should sell a product you initially denied a customer, invite them to participate.

Respectfully Remind Customer of Your Expertise

There are occasions when you disagree with your client and need to deny their request. Respectfully remind clients that you have extensive industry experience in the area they have hired you for, and it is your duty to provide feedback that’s in their best interest and complies with relevant laws and regulations. For example, if you operate a boutique capital management business and a client pressures you to invest in a company they possess inside information in, explain to the client that you have a thorough understanding of company law and believe the transaction could constitute insider trading. The client, in most cases, is grateful that you helped them avoid a decision that could have lost them money, or caused damage to their reputation.

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