How Do You Say No When You Can’t Meet Expectations?
How do you tell your boss or a customer that you can’t meet their expectations?
Here’s some good advice from communication strategist Ken Futch, based on his experience when he was one of the nation’s leading salesmen with AT&T.
“Never Begin The Conversation By Telling What You Can’t Do. Tell What You Can Do.”
If you begin by telling them what you can’t do, you will annoy customers, associates, and the people you report to.
Let’s say you’ve been asked to prepare a report. The president calls in the morning and tells you to have the report on his desk by two that afternoon. You know there’s no way you can meet his expectations.
Here are two possible responses. One, you can say: “I can have that report on your desk by two, but it lack some data that I know you want. I can get that report to you with what we have by two, or I can get the complete, report with all the data by nine in the morning. Which do you prefer? I’ll be happy to do whatever you say.”
Here’s another example. A customer with very bad credit signed up for an expensive computer package. When the salesman found out about the bad credit, he contacted the customer and told the customer that because she had bad credit the company would not be able to make the installation
The salesman’s boss was furious.
Here, in effect, is what the boss said to the salesman: “I’m not unhappy with you for not installing the system for somebody with really bad credit. What I’m unhappy about is the way you communicated with the customer. You humiliated the customer, and she will never do business with us again, even she improves her credit. What you should have said was, “We will be happy to proceed with yourborder and we can begin immediately. We will need a 100% deposit to get started.”
The sales manager was saying, “Give the customer the responsibility to tell you what he/she can’t do, not what you can’t do.”
That’s good customer service, and that’s an effective way to deal with unrealistic expectations. Never begin the conversation by telling what you can’t do. Tell what you can do.
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