We’ve all had customers (internal or external) who ask us to work with a deadline that is too tight, on a project outside our expertise, with too few resources, or with other challenges that we simply can not handle. So here are several ways to say No to your customers and still keep their good will:
- My schedule is packed right now but I can get to this on [date] and then it will be my priority.
- This is outside my area of expertise but I can recommend [person].
- Let’s talk more about what you need. [Look for a compromise.]
- Some of my other customers have handled this situation this way [explain].
- May I offer you an alternative?
- I can do that, but I will have to [charge more, call in help, delay their other project, or ask for some other accommodation].
- I may know someone who can start work on this [sooner, cheaper, faster]. Would you like a referral?
- If you will [make a change, talk to someone else about your priorities, do this research or preparation], then I can take care of the rest of the project.
All these statements surround your No with positives to reassure your customers you recognize and want to support their needs and their best interests. Whether in writing or in face-to-face communications, saying No your customers this way may rescue a project that would add to your bottom line and will certainly improve your customer relationships.
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