How To Keep Customers Happy Even When The Answer Is No

Competition for consumer loyalty has never been tougher, with online reviews and recommendations making it easy to switch brands and services. So one would think that this might also mean giving them everything and the kitchen sink if that’s what they’re asking for, but that’s not the case.

Of course it’s always preferable to say a resounding “Yes!” when a customer asks for something you can deliver, but that’s just not always the reality. Sometimes the answer is no, but how that no is delivered can still feel like a yes, and that can make all the difference in customer satisfaction.

Let’s say a patient calls a healthcare practice after hours and wants their prescription refilled. It’s the practice’s policy to not refill prescriptions outside of business hours, so the answer is a clear no. However, the patient can still be reassured if they speak with an after hours receptionist who says something like, “It’s Dr. Smith’s policy to not refill prescriptions after hours, but his staff will be in the office at 8 a.m. and I can have your request waiting for them. Now, can I get your information so that they ready to help you first thing tomorrow morning?”

Although the patient’s request was denied and their problem wasn’t solved immediately, the receptionist still was able to leave a positive, helpful impression by moving the call along and reassuring the patient that the prescription request would be taken care of in the morning.

In other cases, a caller may be disgruntled about a product or service that isn’t working as it should. "The person answering their call may seem to be at a disadvantage when they can’t solve the customer’s problem over the phone, but rather than sounding defensive they can take control of the call by using a pleasant tone and positive phrases. By saying things like, “I can understand that must be frustrating. Let me get some information so we can get the ball rolling in order to fix this for you as soon as possible.”

Already the caller has heard “I can understand” and “fix this for you as soon as possible,” and is most likely feeling reassured enough to be patient while your team goes through whatever steps may be necessary to resolve the customer’s issue. It may require sending a technician or arranging for a replacement, but if the receptionist handling that customer’s initial call is able to convey that your company cares about his satisfaction, and will take action to fix the problem, he is so much more likely to consider this a positive customer service experience rather than a negative one—even if his problem wasn’t solved immediately over the phone.

Then, to reinforce the messages “we care” and “we’ll take action,” make sure the caller knows what they can expect to happen before ending the call. It could sound like, “So, Mr. Smith, the next step is that I am going to call Joe Fixit in our service department and tell him that the Gizmo-a-doodle-2000 you purchased is not functioning correctly because it beeps when it should buzz. He will be in touch with you by the end of the day. Would you like me to follow up with you tomorrow to see if you have further questions?”

It’s a silly example, but you get the idea. The point is that first the customer feels heard and is assured action will be taken. They are not told, “Hmmm, no, I don’t know how to help with that. You’ll have to call so and so,” which would add to their action steps, not to mention their level of frustration. And the next point is that there’s a closing to the call that includes repeating the customer’s name and complaint, as well as telling him what he can expect the next step will be. An offer to follow up closes the loop to reinforce the “we care” message.

Making a “no” feel like a yes is the difference between adequate and excellent customer service, and is the key to building loyalty. If you’d like to know how the professional receptionists at our answering service are trained to provide that level of customer care, call Towne Answering Service at 800-660-4316 for a free consultation. Visit our website to learn more about our various business solutions and service commitment, and how we can partner with your business to provide personalized, exceptional customer care that meets your specific needs and goals.


Deb Crown

About Deb Crown

Towne Answering Service was established in 1968 to provide answering services for medical and commercial clients in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. Utilizing the best technology available at the time (the time was 1968 and the technology was a switchboard), Towne was able to establish a very faithful clientele, the majority of whom are still with us today. As time passed and technology advanced, so did the equipment. The answering service equipment evolved from switchboards to a basic computerized system with handwritten messages. From that, we were able to move to a fully computerized, paperless, state-of-the-art messaging system with digital lines and switching and were able to partner with our clients and provide a higher level of service.