Especially for SME’s – 21: Time.

05 January 2022


Mr. Lowe: You asked me is there no occasion when we should say no to our customer? Good question: I have used the word “Never say no to a customer” to make a change from our habit that is holding us from giving our best to our customers on whom we entirely depend. There are very, very few occasions, however, when we should say “no” to a customer.

SME 1: Can you tell us some of them as that would comfort us immensely, as we have just fallen from our pedestal of ‘we are the king’ to become servants of our customers and that too unconditionally?

Mr. Lowe: I can think of two or three instances where you can say no to your external customers:
I will also tell you how to say no to a customer, which is critically important also.

The first one is when you say yes to a customer, many of your current customers get a minus.
SME 2: Can you explain with an example?
Mr. Lowe: All my examples, as you know, are from real life. Let me give you one.

One of my clients was a famous hotel in Vadodara. The MD was our student in our management classes meant for industry and he liked the idea of never saying no to customer and making it happen and started following it in practice ever since he completed our program.

One night at about 11 p.m. a couple walked into his hotel, went to the reception and got a room for the night stay. Another employee was watching this happen and after the guests departed for the room, he rushed to the employee at the front office and told him that he was going to be in big trouble for giving a room to the couple as they were not husband and wife. He told the front office guy that he knew them and was cautioning him that as the MD comes to know he will be sacked! He asked the front office guy to give a call to the MD and tell him what has happened.

It was nearing 12 midnight and the front office guy was hesitating to disturb the MD at that time. The other employee told him any body had permission to call the MD at any time if the issue pertains to any guest.

The front office guy called the MD, explained he was a new employee and did not know things and explained what happened. The MD asked him not to worry and said he would be coming to the hotel immediately and would handle the problem himself. He was there in less than 10 minutes!

He gave a call this guest room and when the man came on the line, he politely told him that his hotel had a policy of zero tolerance for admitting a couple who are not married into one room. He explained that this policy was not the policy he created but was created by practically all his other guests who liked this hotel, inter alia, mainly for this reason and chose to stay here.

He continued: “You need not have to worry because it is midnight, I have arranged another room for you in another hotel for you that does not have this policy and my car and driver are waiting for you to come down to take you to that hotel. Of course we don’t charge you anything at all.”

SME1: This hotel said ‘no to the customer’ not because the ‘couple’ violated the hotel’s own policy or its own norm but they violated the norm laid down by its customers! Great! …..contd.


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