All great customer-centric companies have what I call a default of yes, an ethos of,
“The answer is yes; now what is your question?”
As a customer service consultant customer service trainer, helping companies develop and sustain the default of yes is one of the most important disciplines I can share.
The default of yes is a powerful, transformational principle. I can walk right into your business and tell whether you have a cultural “default of yes” or not. More importantly, your customers can too.
Of course, you must be thinking: What if you can’t say yes—to a ridiculous customer request on price, deadline, and so forth?
Here’s the secret: even if you can’t give a customer the exact “yes” they were hoping for, never say “no” without providing one or two reasonable alternatives.
Think of it this way: “No” is a dead end,” while “Here’s what we can do” keeps the channel open.
If you’re in a leadership position and want to work toward a default position of yes in your company or department, start by supporting “yes behavior” in the following ways.
• Model “yes behavior” yourself. If you aren’t willing to make yes your default, why should anyone else? Be aware of what comes out of your own mouth when employees are listening, and of how you behave when they are watching. If you hear yourself frequently telling customers some version of, “I’m afraid we cannot accommodate that request,” your employees will follow suit and find opportunities to likewise refuse to accommodate customers.
· Spell out your commitment to yes. Write the default of yes (including the nuances of what to do when you can’t say yes) into your company standards—and publicize those standards throughout the company.
Support your colleagues and employees in getting to yes. From their first fledgling, awkward attempts to find a yes for customers to their later, more-refined performances, employee efforts at yes deserve encouragement and applause.
Author • Forbes Senior Contributor • Customer Service Consultant
President and CEO, Four Aces Inc.
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