Complaints: What To Say When You Can’t Meet Expectations

How Do You Say No When You Can’t Meet Expectations?

How do you say no to your employer?   How do you say no to a customer in a graceful and diplomatic manner?  How do you tell a customer or your employee that you can’t
meet their expectations?

Here’s some great advice from communication strategist and humorist 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.”

I f 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.  There’s no way you can meet his expectation.

So here are two possible responses.  One, you can say: “I can have the report on your desk by two, but it won’t be proofed the way I like to proof it, and it will be missing some components that I know you want.  I can get that report to you by two, or I can get the complete, proofed report to you by nine in the morning.  Which do you prefer?”

A second possible response:  “I can have the report on your desk by two, but I will have to pull away from two high-priority projects that you assigned me.  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 network.  When the salesman found out about the bad credit, he contacted the customer and told the customer that the company would not be able to install the network.

The salesman’s boss was furious.

Here, in effect, is what the sales manger said:  “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 have humiliated the customer, and she will never do business with us again, even if that company improves its credit.   What you should have said was, “We will be happy to install the computer network, and 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 the way to deal with unrealistic expectations.

–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “The Words Lincoln Lived By” is in its 25th printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225.

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