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Sometimes You Have to Say No to Customers

Neal Kent
Commercial Director at BPI OnDemand
One thing remains perfectly clear to me in this world and that’s no one likes being told no!  This is especially true for customers. In a world where we’ve been told, “the customer is always right,” it comes as a shock when they find out that, actually, no, they aren’t always right. In my opinion, this in itself comes down to customer expectations and how they’re handled.

Managing B2C customer expectations is vastly different to that of B2B, if not easier. B2C environments allow you to form clear and concise standards through quality marketing, messaging, and clearly defined offerings including Ts and Cs. It’s very rare you’ll ever have to tell a customer “No, we can’t do that” without solid evidence in T&C’s to back it up. There are rarely any human interactions unless it’s aftercare and damage control.

Set Clear Expectations

Now, in a B2B environment, the expectations can be very different from the beginning. For the most part, likely early in the customer lifecycle, there’s going to be some human interaction. What happens at this point is what clearly sets customer expectations, which need to be continually enforced.

With B2B also comes a need for customer retention. As detailed in a previous blog post ''Quick Chat – Customer Acquisition vs. Retention', retention is key as even a 5% increase in retention rates can cause an increase in profits up to 95%. While a “do whatever it takes" attitude is very common, beneficial, and may create happy customers, it often results in some form of free offering to appease them.

You may think you’re doing the best thing by pleasing customers this way, but what you may really be doing is damaging your brand, product and offerings.

By providing freebies to any customer who asks, you’re actually implying that this particular thing doesn’t have much value anyway. This is especially true if it’s always the same thing that you’re discounting to multiple customers. By doing this, you damage your brand and give the customer an expectation that they can get more out of you.

Straining Resources

Sure, your organization may have guidelines of what and how much you can offer, but many are willing to blur the lines to give the customer what they want.

Sometimes going that extra mile can have a detrimental effect on internal resources. People may end up stretched for bandwidth and work outside of their comfort zone. Strained resourcing can decrease the quality of work delivered and could potentially burn relationships with clients who have previously had an excellent experience with your organization.

As much as we want to keep our customers and as much as they want to keep the belief they're always right, it just can't always be realistic.

Are there specific instances when you’re ready to say 'No' to your customers?

* Originally published on bpiondemand.com

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