The USA method
USA stands for:
Understanding statement. Never say "no" to a customer without first demonstrating that you understand fully their request or question. It is very important that the customer feels you understand the inconvenience they have experienced. If they don't feel you understand what they are feeling, they may become more difficult.
Situation. Explain exactly why you will have to refuse the customer's request.
Action. When you have to say no, you still have to offer an option. In the Action step you tell the customer what you 'can' do.
In a real-world situation, here's how the USA method works: Let's say you have a customer standing in front of you and demanding to speak with your supervisor.
Here's how you could respond using USA :
"I understand that you want to speak with the service manager."
"My manager counts on me to do my job and resolve problems our customers encounter. Will you please give me an opportunity to try to solve the problem before we go any further?"
"If after speaking with me, you are still unhappy, I'll immediately introduce you to the service manager. How does that sound?"
In most cases, when you demonstrate empathy with an understanding statement, explain the situation, and tell the customer what you can do, you will calm the customer and be able to provide some satisfaction.
You will be effectively and politely saying no without causing resentment. When you say no using the USA method, you will find that fewer customer complaints have to be escalated to management and that you are more confident in your response.
When you say "no" to customers using the USA method, you will be saying "no" without actually saying "no", you'll be diplomatic, and you won't cause resentment.