The Art of Saying ‘No’

“The customer is always right.”

Many read into this popular phrase as an understanding to always say yes to their customers’ requests but they couldn’t be any more wrong. You do not need to do everything they say to make them happy in the end. It’s important to say no to your customers so that they’ll receive the correct and final product and or service that will satisfy not only them, but your business too.

I’ve met and watched other business employees not only lose money by never speaking up, but by the end the customer still wasn’t happy with the final product, losing the possibility of them ever returning. All the frustration and extra hours got them nothing in return other than being confused as to where they went wrong. They did everything the customer asked for, right?


It’s your fault, not the customer’s. As a business expert in your area, you provide product and services that you possess the knowledge of. Customers approach YOU because you know how to do what they need. Guide them towards the right path by providing alternative answers or asking new questions. Those crazy requests you hear from them are not made of stone, help them sculpt a better idea with your expertise.

As an example, a customer had asked me to provide specific samples that, as a professional graphic designer, I knew would not work for their specific needs. However, I not only provided them samples of what they asked for but alternatives to show them something that will work better. When you provide a comparison, it allows the customer to realize for themselves what the better route will be. This is a nice way of persuading the customer while not appearing as if you ignored their original request. In return, they’ll want to contact you for the same quality of service again.

This is the art of saying no. You’re not actually saying the word, but communicating to turn the misguided request into a more reasonable or correct one. Explain to them why their request doesn’t work, and then provide the alternative that you know will achieve their ultimate goals. If their requests are vague, ask them to clarify by providing examples. Communication is key and if done correctly, both the customer and you will be happy with the final result without the loss of money, time and years off of your life! Be the leader of your position, speak up and end your frustrations!

AboutJessica Sheneman

Jessica Sheneman joined the Proforma Creative Services Team as the Senior Graphic Designer in April 2017. Her primary role is working one-on-one with Owners to create visually appealing designs to help them build a successful relationship with their clients. She also works on internal projects such as Proforma’s Connections Newsletter, the Annual Wall Calendar, Essentials and more. Jessica graduated Magna Cum Laude from Virginia Marti College with an Associate's Degree of Applied Business in Graphic Design. Outside of work she loves to spend time with family, go for hikes, read, craft and attend hockey games.

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