The Pep Talk

A Business Pep Talk - What CAN You Do?

As a customer, how many times have you run into "Can't"?  As in "Sorry, we can't do that."  It's a disastrous business paradigm, yet it happens all the time.  While it is easy to fix, too many people in business get stuck in the rut.  Here are the customer service tips.

It is so much better to get out of the rut, and inspire happy, loyal customers.

One Example:

I contacted a new vendor the other day with a simple request.  Of course, I was making some assumptions about services based on their website.  However, after a short discussion, the salesman shut me down with "We can't do that."  Basically, he closed the door on a potential sale.

The reasons for 'Why' were not apparent, so after turning to leave, I decided to ask a few more questions.  I turned around and asked again.

After some prodding and encouragement, it turns out the words I was using are not the proper jargon of their industry to describe what I need.  Turns out they "Can" do it - just a little different than what I was originally thinking.

The "Can't" Phenomenon

The above story is just one typical scenario of the familiar "Can't" phenomenon.  How many sales does your company turn away because your people are stuck in a mental "rut" or the proverbial "box"?

Good Customer Service TipsThis is the story of a basic principle of business.  Just remove the word "Can't" from your company vocabulary.  It will work miracles in the way your company functions, and in the way your company is perceived by customers.

Here is the pep talk as Customer Service Tips —

  • Don’t tell the customer what you Can’t do; instead, find a way to "Yes".
  • Help the customer understand what you CAN do, then let them decide if that will work for them.

Often this is accomplished by simple clarifying questions.  Or, heaven forbid, by thinking of possible Solutions!  It is not hard.

We are talking about good 'ol customer service tips.  There are so many examples of poor customer service, but it is so easy to make the experience positive instead.

Another Example for the Pep Talk

The other day I noticed one tire on my truck was quite low.  I filled it, then stopped by Discount Tire for a repair.  Of course the nail causing the leak was in an area near the sidewall, so the first thing they said was "Sorry, we can't fix that."

I stifled my immediate impulse, and decided to see what he would say.  I stood there several seconds waiting for what he would say next.  He did not offer a solution, and acted quite awkward with the silence.  What do you think was going through his head?  I could tell he needed the customer service tips.

Finally, I asked, "OK, what CAN you do?"

He looked at me in a blank way as if I were crazy, then repeated, "I'm sorry, we can't fix that."

I know full well the issues of tires and sidewall repairs.  Sure, I know the policies, and I know that it is drilled into the employees.  Yet, the important point here - the policy does not change the nail.

I smiled, waited a few seconds in hopes the wheels were turning, but no.  So, asked for the store manager.

In a few minutes the manager came out and gave a long explanation about why they can't fix it.  I listened (though I have heard it many times before), then asked again, "OK, what CAN you do?"

Again, the pause.  I could tell he was a little frustrated that I did not understand that they can't fix it.  So, I explained.  "I understand what you are saying, but it does not change the fact that I have a flat tire.  I assume this is a tire shop, so is there anything you CAN do so that I can drive away with tire that won't leak?"

The light went on.  "Oh, yes, we can sell you a new tire."

Thinking of Solutions

Tire StackMy response, "Great, that is a start.  However, the tires on the vehicle are more than half worn down, so one new tire is probably not a good solution.  Do you have any used tires of this size?"

And, my second suggestion.  "I know you normally like to use a plug for this kind of repair, and that's part of why there are restrictions, but can we put a patch on the inside instead?"

Using the above customer service tips makes it easy to find a few solutions.  Help the customer find a way to "yes".

In the end, I bought a used tire of the same size, and drove away with 4 full tires.

This example is not to call them out, but to illustrate how the "box" confines thinking and makes customers resent the company.  If I was not assertive, I would have driven away frustrated, without a fix.

What if I did not persist in asking them for a solution? How would I then feel about Discount Tire?

The Customer Service Tips - Turn It Positive

So often, we don't realize how easy it is to turn a customer off.  Or, how easy it is to help someone and have them feeling positive about the company.  We spend thousands of dollars in advertising, then turn away customers that come to buy.  Why?

Unfortunately, this type of interaction is all too common.  Perhaps more unfortunate, this thinking comes from the top.  Maybe the store owner, maybe corporate, maybe ???.

My experience shows that most employees are good at following the example of their superiors.  So, model it, and teach it, make it a frequent pep talk.  It is a simple way to have more happy and loyal customers.  Isn't that why we are in business in the first place?

The Lesson:

The key for these customer service tips is to remove "Can't" from your vocabulary, and replace it with solutions.  You might not offer exactly what the customer was thinking when they came in, but give solutions.  Give choices.  Help customers understand what you CAN do, then let them decide if it works.  That is always powerful.

Instead of saying "We can't do that."  Ask a few clarifying questions to better understand, OR say something like one of these:

  • "Here are a couple things we can do that might meet your needs."
  • Or, "Can I offer you this _____ <other solution>?"
  • Or, if it is truly outside of your business services, say "I know a company that might do that for you."
  • Or, "Would you like me to do a quick Google search for a company that can do that?"

The difference in how a customer feels is night and day.  Think about how you feel when you ask for help and get the stone wall of "Sorry we Can't do that."

Make The Experience Positive!

There are two old sayings I have found quite true.  They are customer service tips in themselves.  (I don't know the source, but it's been around in many forms.)  "Help others get what they want, and you will always get what you need."  And the similar one "What comes around, goes around."  Serve up smiles with solutions, and you'll find smiles and loyalty come right back around.

Ah, and the final note in our customer service tips today - Do it because spreading happiness is the right thing!

Food for thought.

Good luck in purging "Can't" with these Customer Service Tips.

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