Customer Service

The Magic Word that Can Transform Your Business

Posted in Customer Service on May 10th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

A tale of two stories:

Story #1: Recently, I went to a restaurant with my family. The place was virtually empty and we were seated at a nice table. I then noticed a sign on the table that said “Reserved for parties of 6 or more. A 20 percent gratuity will automatically be added to your bill.”

As I don’t like to be told how much to tip, I pointed out to the waitress that there were only five of us and surely the sign was inapplicable. She excused herself and went and got the manager. The manager showed up . . . and asked us to move to a different table.

You gotta be kidding me. The place was empty, and they had sat us there. I asked nicely if we could just stay where we were as our coats were off and we were settled in.


Story #2: My brother was having some issues with his car, so when he took it to the car wash, he specifically told three different people there to please leave the ignition on. Nevertheless, the third person ignored him, turned the car off, and then was surprise when 1) the car would not start, and 2) my brother got upset.

He asked for his $15 back.


It is a wonder how some people stay in business. I understand that companies have policies and are not in the business of making exceptions. But I also know that bowing to the altar of rules can be a big mistake.

The morale of the stories is this: There is one word, one powerful, small little word that can transform any business. It can mean the difference between stagnation and growth, between mediocre and exceptional customer service, between winning and losing in business.

The word?


Yes is powerful. Yes is positive. Yes opens possibilities. People love Yes. Customers love Yes. Customers hate no. Can we stay at this table? Yes. Can I have a refund? Yes.

Think about what Yes says about your business: It means that you are more committed to the customer than the buck. It says that you are all about making it easy.

Far too often some small business owners, and more often their employees, become what I call Nopeys. Nopey was a character from the old Gumby show whose answer to any question was “No!” We have all run across the Nopey employee. They seem to love to exert their power by telling you no, that it can’t be done, that that is not how we operate, it’s just not possible, yada yada yada.

Nopeys can be the death of your business. They alienate customers and are difficult teammates.

Sure, Yes may cost you some time and money, and yes, Yes can be a pain in the rear sometimes. But when you think about some of the great businesses, they are great because their answer is Yes:

·      Nordstrom’s is famous for saying Yes

·      Go to an Apple Store and you will see Yes in action

·      Starbucks is all about Yes

Want to transform your business and create a wild-about-you fan base? Foster a culture of Yes. Make it easy to do business with you. Be flexible. Make exceptions. Weed out your Nopeys. Get rid of the manager who makes customers change tables for no reason, the car wash guy more interested in 15 bucks than anything else.

Just say Yes!

About the Author

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts.

The senior small business columnist and author of 15 books, his latest is the best-selling Small Business Bible.

Steve is also a lawyer and public speaker and speaks around the world about entrepreneurship, including a recent visit to the United Nations. He has been on CNN, CNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on MSNBC’s Your Business.

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