How to politely say NO to a customer

We all know that people emotionally don’t respond well to “no.” As customers we also hate it, so why would you straight up say “no” to a customer request?


While it can be very tempting to never turn away business, you know yourself what is best for you and your company. In occasions, this may mean that you will have to turn people down, particularly if you meeting their demand will drain time and resources you can’t afford to spend. Here are a few tips that will help you out if you ever come across this scenario:


Remember, Henry Ford once said:

“A customer can have any car painted in any colour they want, as long as its black.”

Hear the customers request

When dealing with the customer’s request, try to make sure that you are letting the customer know you are hearing them by using words like, “I understand.” If the customer is looking for something that you don’t offer, tell them, “I understand, but unfortunately, we don’t provide that service here” or whatever terms apply to the question being asked. Don’t just simply shut them down, you will burn a bridge.

Tell them what you can do

Focus on what you can do for the customer, rather than the ones you can’t. Restate the problem and that you understand how upset they must be. You can offer multiple solutions for them so they know that you are on their side.

Be gentle and provide next steps

When dealing with the customer it’s vital to be real and upfront but in a gentle manner. These customers are the most valuable part of your business, so you need to be transparent if you want them to return and keep using your product or service again. When saying no, remind them of company policies and always offer then a solution or next step. This will show the customer what you are doing to better the situation for them.

Decline with gratitude

You never want to burn a bridge, nor do you want to compromise yourself to satisfy a customer. When saying no, do so with kindness and gratitude and you will do so while maintaining your own values.

Offer alternatives

Being a business owner, it can be very hard to reject a customer. But when doing so it is critical that you selectively say no to avoid spending more time with these customers than you will get in return. Use a diplomatic way to turn a customer away by suggesting alternative providers who may offer that exact product or service that the customer requires. Using this approach is generally well received as you are still going out of your way to help the customer get what they want.

You are the expert

Sometimes you may have to remind the clients, respectfully, that you are the expert. You know what you are doing, and that’s why they have chosen your service.

Say it right

You can’t always say yes to every customer’s request that comes through the door. When learning to say no and being subtle about it is a very important skill in customer relationships. You also require a great degree of personal control also. Don’t leave your clients with a flat-out “no.” You don’t want to send that kind of message to your customer. Instead, try to ease the pain of denial by suggesting alternative solutions.