The Problem Of Over Commitment!
Finding new clients is a challenge all businesses face, so when we finally land a client, especially a larger one, it is a natural reaction for us to go above and beyond to keep them happy. From a customer service point of view the word “yes” sounds like heaven’s bells to an angel, but it is not always possible to say yes to every request. The trick is to be HONEST, even when it means saying “NO” to a client.If you transition personal feelings into a working world scenario, you could be damaging your chances for success.
The belief in good customer service translates to return business and larger profits holds strong. But it is just as important and more difficult to say "NO" to a customer, even though that will not translate into return business and higher profits. Saying no to a customer is viewed by many as a failure to deliver good customer service or not having the capability of delivering a product. As a result policies are usually implemented to say “yes” just about EVERY time. Instead of seeing the rewards for it, it seems as though all other work get backtracked and quality starts being sacrificed. The more clients hear “yes,” the more they demand, and the more chaotic and unorganized you production will become. Lets be honest, most of these yes-no decisions are not based on whether you can do the project correctly in time asked, they are based on the following: Fear.
Fear of losing a client
Fear of a bad reputation
Fear of hurting feelings
You want your clients to like you. You want their referrals. You want them to know that you can take on any project. So you say yes, and all of a sudden, you run into the unforeseen problem of over commitment!
The Right & Wrong Kind of Busy!
The more things you say yes to, the more you have on your plate. Busy, very busy, super busy but unproductive. Is it the right kind of busy? Stretching yourself thin, making promises and compromising quality to get there. Caving into client requests and finding yourself falling short on promises and deadlines is counterproductive.
Saying yes to free design work that eats away into paid commercial work. Spending countless hours answering emails and inquiries that are a dead end. Entertaining a client’s indecision by allowing them to go back and forth, for free, on project details are all ways of trapping your time. You eventually fill your time with so many things that you end up over committed to everyone. Fulfilling simple tasks in the periods that you promised becomes difficult nor can you deliver the kind of results and quality you really want to offer.
An Unreasonable Request, or Lack of Knowledge?
It is more important to be able to identify a reasonable request as opposed to something that is a waste of time. If your client comes to you because of an error YOU made, you better fix it, and pronto! Standing behind your product or service should be easy if you treat each individual project with its deserved time and attention. If a client comes to you because they need clarification or they are unsure about the details of a project, you should take some time to explain it to them thoroughly, to avoid future headaches.
There are MANY things you should say yes to, but if your experience is telling you that the project needs more time, a different installation method, or just does not make sense, it might be time to pull out the “no” card.
The Right No = Great Customer Service.
Great customer service is formulated from simple theory:
You and your clients have to be able to communicate in a clear and efficient manner. The client wants to be heard and understood. At the same time you are the expert in your field and should be able to steer the client in the proper direction. They want to be assured that as a business you are listening to them and internalizing what they have said, but they also want you to solve or fulfill whatever request they have. Though they may think they have a solution or request that they came up with, if you are courteous and professional, they should always be open to hear your point of view. Most important, once a solution that works for all parties involved is found, you need to make sure to put that plan into action!
Notice how saying yes is not part of the equation? If you simply say yes to everything you are putting at risk the last step, which is effectively putting your plans into action. If you can’t meet a deadline or come through on your promises, then by default you have delivered bad customer service. Saying no is great customer service because great customer service relies on solving problems, even if the solution is not what the client originally wanted or expected, and sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can't help a client. There is nothing wrong with that.
Soften The "No" With A Counter Offer or Incentive.
The easiest, best method I have found for easing a client into a "no" scenario is by offering them a counter offer or an incentive to their demands.
By being a little bit creative, You can still solve the issue and say no to the original offer made by the client in a way that keeps both you and them happy. Making counter offers that put your and your clients best interests in a different light can be the best way to say no to a client and have them accept your rejection with a smile.
There is always the chance that the client does not like nor accept your counter offer, you still hold the winning hand and are in the superior position. You can now more confidently and easily give them a “NO,” because you already offered a solution, which they have not accepted or rejected. You gave the client an option, which they could have chosen, thus putting the power in their hands. In essence, by not agreeing to your terms or solutions they are saying “NO” to themselves.