When It Comes to Customer Service, Don’t Say No

The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty

The Effortless Experience:
Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty

The mind is a powerful thing. But almost all our mental processing takes place unconsciously; neuroscience suggests that as few as 5 percent of a person’s decisions are based on conscious, rational thought. Whether companies realize it or not, they’re constantly delivering clues that influence their customers’ unconscious thinking—shaping their impressions and ultimately, their actions.  

Consider customer service. Chances are you have bailed on a company you’d been satisfied with for years because of a bad experience with its customer service department. But chances are you would have stayed with the company if its customer service reps had just made it easier for you to place your order or resolve your problem.

This doesn’t mean that customers expect to be swept off their feet by customer service reps. What they really want, explain Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi, is an “effortless” experience.

You can’t always say yes to every customer request. It would be great if you could, but there are many situations in which the thing a customer wants and the thing you have to give are not the same. Then what?

Well, of course, the opposite of yes is…no. So let’s consider the word “no” for a moment. How do you react when you hear that word? For most of us, “no” is a trigger that sets in motion an entire chain of negative emotions. Anger, outrage, argumentation.

That’s a lot of bad outcomes just because of one word. So, of course, it only makes sense that you’d want your people to avoid using it as much as possible. Reps need to find a way to both be truthful (because the answer in many cases is, unfortunately, still no), but in a way that doesn’t trigger the negative emotional reaction and all the bad outcomes that come along with it. This is where the use of positive language can make such a big difference….

So if you could just teach your reps how to use a simple response substitution when these situations came up, creating a positive conversation that moves forward rather than backward –  instead of saying, “We don’t have that item in stock right now,” you could say “We will have availability on [date] and I can get that out to you immediately once it comes in.”

It’s a seemingly tiny little thing, but think about how these situations become amplified over thousands and thousands of customer interactions every day, mitigating the corrosive effect of negativity and its impact on customer loyalty. It all adds up and has a meaningful impact on customers.

Again, this isn’t just about being nice to customers. Nor is it just about using positive words. It is to be trained to react in the most common situations where we are very likely to be entering into the high-effort zone, since saying no (as well as words like “can’t,” “won’t,” “don’t,” etc.) is such a huge effort trigger….

Just because there’s nothing you can do, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

—Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi

Original article :



About Georges Abi-Aad

CEO, electronic engineer with MBA in marketing. Multicultural; French citizen born in Lebanon working in the Middle East and fluent in French, English and Arabic. I have more than 30 years of proven experience in the Middle East with European know how. I am good in reorganization and in Global strategic management business. I am a dependable leader with an open approach in working with people, forging a strong team of professionals dedicated to the Company and its clientele. Perseverance is my key word. Married to Carole and having 2 children: Joy-Joelle and Antoine (Joyante!).
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