Don’t say no when you really mean yes

December 28th, 2009 · 1 Comment

When speaking to your customers, accommodate to their language. Don’t unnecessarily force your vocabulary on them. And don’t tell them no when you really mean yes.

Redbox is great. I rent movies from them a few times a month. I love the simplicity of the service: show up, pick a movie, swipe your card, and you’re done.

Recently, I had some trouble reserving a movie and so I had to call their customer service hotline. When I got a hold of a human, I was told that I reserved my movie at the wrong location. Bummer. I was in a hurry when I reserved it online, so I must not have selected the right location.

I wanted to pick up the movie at the Redbox I was standing in front of, so I asked if they could cancel the reservation at the other Redbox, and let me pick it up here. The nice lady on the phone said,

“I’m sorry, we can’t cancel your reservation… but we can credit your account.”

Huh? How is that not exactly what I asked for?

Redbox does a lot of things right, so this caught me off guard. What I heard was “sorry, you’re wrong, but we’ll do it anyways” and that’s what I remember the most from my experience. I got my movie, I wasn’t charged double, but what I remember is that weird moment when they told me no but really meant yes.

This could have been avoided if the lady on the phone replied with:

“Sure, we can do that. We can’t refund your money, but we will credit your account, and cancel the reservation at the other location.”

But instead I left scratching my head, confused as to why I was wrong but still got my way.

Tags: Communication · User Experience · Language

What do you think?

1 comment

  • 1 Chris Braunsdorf Feb 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    That reminds me of an example that I saw several years ago when researching online mortgage applications. On one of them, if you entered your social security number with dashes, they threw an error message telling you that it was supposed to be in the format (xxx-xx-xxxx), but they went ahead an automatically corrected it anyway. I’ve always referred to this example as the “Slap your hand, tell you you’re a bad boy, let it slide this time, but leave you wondering whether you’ll be so lucky in the future” rule of communicating with your customers.