Every franchisee has likely heard the expression “the customer is always right.” Well, what if the customer is wrong? After all, if a customer walks into a shoe store and asks to be served a plate of pasta, he or she is certainly not “right” when the shoe store can’t fulfill the ludicrous request. Of course, it is crucial to keep your customers happy. But the bottom line is that not every request a customer makes is a reasonable request. New entrepreneurs, including new franchisees, often make the mistake of bending over backward to accommodate every single customer request, no matter how outlandish. Meeting every request can cause your company to lose focus and can confuse your team. In some situations, it is much better to just say “no.”
Know when to say “no.” You should say “no” to a customer request if A) the customer is asking for something that your company doesn’t offer, or B) the customer is asking for something that isn’t essential. If you don’t offer a product or service, there is a good chance that providing what the customer is asking for simply wouldn’t make economic sense for your business or that it falls outside of your business’s area of expertise. In either case, providing things your company isn’t equipped to offer will likely waste valuable time and resources. Similarly, if a customer is pushing for something that isn’t essential, you need to explain why providing it isn’t a good use of your company’s time or resources.
If a customer is being picky about prices, it can also be a good idea to say “no.” Establish firm prices for your services based on industry standards, and stick to them.
Know how to say “no.” When a customer is adamant that you provide a product or service that you simply can’t provide, you need to know how to say “no.” The first step is to politely convey to the customer that you do fully understand his or her request and that you understand why he or she is making the request. This gesture will show that you do genuinely care and that you are listening. Next, explain why you simply can’t meet the request. If needed, refer the customer to another provider.
Put your company first. Remember, losing focus isn’t just a matter of branding. When you constantly say “yes” to every request, even if it doesn’t fit in with what you already offer, you confuse your team, making your employees’ jobs harder and undermining their ability to serve customers as a whole. When deciding what services or products to offer, keep your company, and its ability to serve clients, first.
But this advice does come with a caveat. If a customer is asking for a better product than you currently have or you notice that multiple customers are making the same kind of request, you might need to reevaluate what you are offering. Always keep the focus on how your company can best serve customers.
Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.