“No” Is an Easy Answer

Shep Hyken
3 min readApr 3, 2024

If a customer asks you to do something you haven’t done before, “No” is an easy answer. Why? Because…

  • We don’t do that.
  • We’ve never done that.
  • We don’t carry that product.
  • That’s not our policy.
  • And more reasons — or excuses — like these.

Recently, I was the keynote speaker at a conference, and the CEO, who spoke just before me, teed up my presentation perfectly when he talked about going the extra mile. His approach to this concept was realistic. He said, “No one will be able to go the extra mile every time.” He emphasized that unless the customer has some kind of emergency, the extra mile is often something small — something we typically don’t do.

Customers can be our best source of innovation and opportunity. If we survey our customers and ask for feedback, we may find ways to improve our products and services. Or sometimes, they will come right out and ask for something out of the ordinary. It’s easy to ignore feedback or say “No, “when someone suggests something we’ve never done before. But what if we looked beyond the words and thought, “What if,” instead of, “That is something we don’t do.”?

Years ago, I wrote an article about the “Anti-No Zone.” The premise was employees at a restaurant were trained to find ways to say “Yes.” If you want to dig deeper into this idea, check out my article about Cameron Mitchell, a very successful restauranteur who authored a book titled Yes Is the Answer! What’s the Question? And I wrote another article featuring Christine Trippi on How to Say YES — Every Time.

All of these articles are about avoiding the word no. At the same time, it’s unrealistic to say yes to every request; however, maybe we can say “No” without really saying “No.” Instead, you can offer alternative solutions that, while not what the customer is asking for, will still make them happy.

So, going the extra mile is more than a customer service strategy. And it’s more than avoiding the word no. It is a mindset that customers will appreciate. At the same time, it’s recognizing that anything that you might say no to at first is a possibility to innovate and grow.

So, the next time you are about to say “No” to a customer or an employee, catch yourself and before you answer, and think, “If I could say yes, what would that look like?” Practice the mindset of not just going the extra mile but being proactive about finding ways to do so.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at www.Hyken.com. Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

Originally published at hyken.com on April 3, 2024



Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, customer service expert, business speaker and New York Times bestselling author, helps companies deliver AMAZING customer service and experiences!