Sometimes we just have to say no to the customer – and for many of us that’s quite a difficult task. We want to help; we are conscientious; we want to give the best service we possibly can. And sometimes we don’t have the resources, or the skills, or even the permission to say ‘yes’, so we have to say ‘no’.
So for those of you who find this difficult, this simple technique might help. It’s called the A,S,S technique, or in short, the ASS technique. So as an acronym it’s quite easy to remember – ASS – and it’s the first three letters of ASSertive, and it is an assertive approach, but one that I think is friendly, and quite helpful. So what do the letters ASS stand for?
The A stands for Acknowledge. So acknowledge the request of the customer. They want to feel that they are being listened to, and that their request is reasonable, which it probably is from their perspective – it’s just that we’re not able to deliver. So acknowledge their request – something like “I can see that’s important”, “I can see how important that is for you”, “I’m sorry that’s not been available to you”…whatever it is that makes the customer feel valued, respected and listened to. So the A is for Acknowledge – acknowledge the request.
The first S – the second letter – is Say No. You have to say no, because that’s what you need to close the conversation. Say no, but give a reason. If you put yourself in the customer’s shoes – if you were the customer – and someone was saying no to you, you’d feel it was important for them to give you a reason. After all, if you think your request is reasonable, then you want a reason for it not being accepted, So say no, and give a reason. So “I can understand that’s an important requirement, I’m unable to do that, for the following reasons…because.
And the third letter, the second S, is suggest the next best alternative. Because there will be one. There will always be something else the customer can do if you are not able to provide the service they want, So “I’m sorry we’re not able to fit the new door for you, but if you contact XYZ, they fit those kind of doors for you.” So the sequence runs like this:
- acknowledge – “I can see why that’s important”
- say no – “I’m sorry we’re not able to deliver that, because…”
- suggest the next best alternative – “however, if you contact this number they will be able to put you in touch with someone who can help”
So ASS: acknowledge, say no with a reason, and suggest the next best alternative.
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