7 Ways to Say no: Complete Guide to Rejecting Your Customers

Saying no to customer

7 Ways to Say no: Complete Guide to Rejecting Your Customers

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I interviewed several customer service reps from various IT firms and businesses. My focus was on finding out that ‘one factor’ in customer service and sales that they are ‘least willing to commit to’ or ‘looking for ways to say no to’

It turns out that most customer service specialists, as well as sales reps, were least willing to ‘reject a customer’. Of course, when you’re in search of gaining customers and deriving conversions, you would do all it takes to retain your customers. However, there is always a boundary. In certain situations, you look for ways to say no and have to think about your company to take certain steps in the advantage of your business; Even if it means saying no to your customers. If you’ve never been associated with a sales or customer service department, you might be wondering, “how hard could it be to say no?” and ‘why would sales rep be afraid of rejecting a client. So below I’ve rounded up the main ‘three reasons why business fear to reject customers:’

  1.     You Don’t Want to Lose Any Business

You’re afraid that you will regret saying no to a customer and will end up losing their business. All because you couldn’t work a bit harder to fulfill their requirements.

  1.     You’re Afraid to Hurt Your Relationship with the Customer

There are always certain customers that you prioritize over others. However, sometimes these customers might start expecting too much from you. But now, you’re afraid you might lose a potential client.

  1.     You’re Afraid It Will Hurt Your Reputation

You’re afraid that the customer might start spreading around word such as ‘your company fails to fulfill basic requirements’.

Now let’s get back to the elephant in the room; Set aside all your fears, “how can you say no to your clients without making them angry?”

8 Ways to Say no to Customers Without Making Them Angry

  1.     Empathy Never Fails

Whether you’re working as a sales rep or not talking directly to customer or on a live chat app for website, delivering bad news is always difficult. In your everyday life, you would choose to deliver bad news but be very empathetic towards the other person. The same rule implies in your professional life as well. Using empathy statements while rejecting your client will tone down the damage that you would otherwise create. Empathy statements show your clients that you care about them and wish to help them resolve the issues that they are facing. Being empathetic towards your clients shows that you have tried best to find the solution to an occurring problem.

Empathy statements will develop trust and create a mutual understanding between you and your client. Below are some examples of empathy statements that you can utilize:

  •         “We understand that this was one of your primary requirements, we made it our number one priority to meet your requirements.”

Asides this, another way to say for example:

  •         “We would feel the same if we were in your shoes, we will try our best to sort it out”

In addition to the above, other ways to say for example:

  •         “We understand”
  •         “We agree”
  •         “We are truly sorry”

This is definitely one of the best ways to say no to your customers.


  1.     Listen to Your Customer and Clarify

Listening to your customers and understanding their requirements is an essential component for providing a good customer service experience. Think about it, if you are associated with someone that has a habit of bragging on and on about themselves and rarely listens to you. For how long would you stay connected with that person before you decide to break it off. Not for very long I suppose. This type of attitude is disrespectful and just plain annoying. No matter how busy you are, it’s essential that you listen carefully to your client to ensure that you clearly understand their questions and problems.

If you deliver bad news to your customer without looking into their issues, it will damage the relationship that you have with your customer. If your customer feels that you’re not really engaged or you’re not really trying to understand their concerns. Then they will be inclined towards walking away from you and seek a better brand with better customer service. Instead of saying something like “We’re sorry, but we cannot help you with this issue”, some other ways to say according to customer service experts:

  •         “Kindly provide some more details about your concern so that we can better understand your requirements?”
  •         “Please tell me some more details about your desired features.”


  1.     Explain Yourself Clearly and Carefully

If you just reject a customer without giving them an explanation, you are setting yourself and your company up for trouble. Customers will feel frustrated and angry at you for wasting their valuable time and money. Especially if you are delivering bad news, it’s essential that you have clearly heard as well as explained the entire situation to your customer. This can help clear up any misunderstandings that you or the client might have, and it will also aid in developing a positive customer relationship. Here is what you can say to explain yourself to your customers:

  •         “At the present moment, we cannot adhere to your request because…”
  •         “The reason for this is that…”
  1.     Offer Alternatives

If you cannot fulfill your customer’s request, it’s always a good idea to provide them with some alternative options. Initially, if your company cannot provide what the client is seeking, you can go ahead and introduce them to the other services that you offer. Try to seek some other ways to help them get their work done. If you can’t find a solution to their problem, then it would be better to refer your client to another company. Even if that means referring them to a competitor. If you think they can aid your client, then go ahead and make the referral.

Don’t be disappointed to lose a customer, after all, you wouldn’t be able to help them anyway. If you can provide them with an alternative, it will prevent bad reviews and even improve your company’s reputation.


  1.     Explain the risks and what would happen next

Instead of straight forward rejecting your customers, it would be a better idea to let them know what steps you will be taking forward on. For example, if a customer makes a request that you’re unable to entertain, you can tell them that you have their request in the queue for consideration. And later on, if you decide that you ‘can’ fulfill the request, then you can contact them and give them the good news. And even if you’re unable to fulfill their request, getting back to your customers will show them that you care about them and take them seriously.

For example, if you’re a customer rep for ‘Subway’, and a customer makes a request of getting a 2-foot long sub. You can tell them that you don’t provide that service at the moment but will note down their request to be implemented in the future. As a customer, it’s comforting to know that your request won’t just disappear, it will go through a request handling process. Customer love being taken seriously.


  1.     Honesty is Always the Key

When you are honest with your customers, you ultimately begin to create a trustworthy customer relationship. Furthermore, people appreciate businesses that tell the truth and word of your honesty will definitely get around. Honesty also comes in handy when you have to say ‘no’ to a customer.

You might feel tempted to lead the customer on without any intention of resolving their issues. This type of dishonesty could come back and create more damage than you could have anticipated. Especially, if a customer starts to figure out your insincerity.

You don’t need to feed your customers lies and false excuses for saying no to them. Instead, you should just be honest and admit that you will not be to fulfill their request. Being honest and transparent doesn’t mean that you should straightforward reject the client; make sure that you explain the reason for rejecting the customer.


  1.     Provide Helpful Content and Follow Up

If you had referred your client to your competitor, it doesn’t mean that you should limit all your contacts with them. In fact, if you had developed a relationship with them then don’t be tempted to throw everything in the river. Follow them up from time to time and ask them how their work is going with your competitor. Keeping in touch with the customer will show them that you still care about them and will be willing to help them whenever they need it.

If you had rejected the customer, then follow them up with good news about their earlier requirements. So if you want to gain your customer’s loyalty, make sure that you keep them informed about your progress and updated services.

Wrapping Up

You can’t always say yes to a customer and fulfill even the most unreasonable requests. Sometimes, you just have to build up the courage to say no. Learning to say no in a polite manner is a very important skill that customer service reps have to master. Customers are always expecting positive news, especially if they have paid their dues and invested their time. Above we have discussed 7 ways to say no to your clients without making them angry. Instead of leaving your customer with a flat-out ‘no’, try to ease the denial process with the help of the techniques mentioned above. This will help you strengthen your personal relationships with your customers and also develop your company’s reputation.