It’s ok to say no (to placebos)

Many thanks to Glen Cook for suggesting this topic:

“A question came up in my team meeting today regarding customers that always demand a WebEx session to resolve a case. Some engineers feel it can be too arduous to always do a session when it isn’t required. Is it ok to say no to these requests?”

Naturally, it’s ok to say no.

The catch is that the support engineer must demonstrate that an online session is not needed, which can be a delicate undertaking if the customer’s convinced otherwise (and which may take more time than actually doing the session). It would be a great use of the technique I call “saying yes to say no”:

“I’m always happy to set up a WebEx session  to resolve issues [saying yes]. In this case, based on the information you are giving me, I believe that the issue you are encountering has a known solution, which is X  [to say no]. I can confirm the steps in an email if you’d like.”

Customers may become overly reliant on the comfort of online sessions. Gently turning down a request for an unnecessary session will help the customer realize that many problems can be addressed successfully without an online session.

Are you seeing more customers asking for online sessions?

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  • Samir Reply

    I read this article and would like to share my feeling about it : I totally agree on the idea of “it’s ok to say no” but this said, I believe WebeX can be also a very strong tool to gather information, specially in some situations where the support engineer and the customer don’t understand each other for whatever reasons (cultural difference, difficulty with the language…..). and I would in such case always push for the the idea of “1,2,3 emails then phone or WebEX” and in this case a WebEX could help gathering some information for the sake of the investigation and move on. Of course the usage of WebEX in such scenario would require a strong and clear set of expectations with the customer, WebEX is not always about fixing the problem online…..
    The reason why I wanted to share this feedback is simply that I see too often situations where a customer gets impatient or unhappy about the fact that support don’t get it, and the support engineer would wait longer and continue with ping pong emails…..
    I hope this makes sense 🙂

    Thanks for the newsletter, always nice to read it !

    • ft-admin Reply


      WebEx and other screen-sharing tools are wonderful! My early experiences in support predate these tools by many years and we would have loved to have them available back in the day. I also agree that a short screen-sharing session can save many back-and-forth emails and lots of frustration on either side.

      My point was that support engineers should be driving the interactions with customers. So if the customer wants a screen-sharing session but there are no troubleshooting benefits to one, the support engineer should feel comfortable turning down the request. Long live screen sharing — when appropriately used.

  • Amanjit Sandhu Reply

    Hi – a great article indeed and one that I have shared with both of my support teams for their readership and reflection. Within the EMEA region which we work the number of times customer demand a WebEx I would say is much lower to that of other regions – i.e. the US. This may be cultural or it could be the habit which we have cultivated? That’s another discussion…
    It can be very difficult for any analyst to say “No” if the customer has always got a “Yes” answer in the past for anything – and this includes a WebEx to resolve a support issue. The technique given in your article is good since its puts a positive spin on the request to the customer whilst still saying “No” all at the same time.
    However, if we keep saying “Yes” to a customer demand for a WebEx – then we risk our customer being fully dependant on their support team and we are then very close to the bordering of either doing the customers job, providing repetitive training sessions and on the flipside the analyst has no time for self-development. Setting this president means the customers’ expectations are equally set and as soon as you try and revoke that, you may get unhappy customers!
    One thing I would like to add to the analyst’s arsenal in how to say “No” is the power of the question “Why?”. OK – so you would not in practice ask the question, but phrase a question around the “Why”. The customer should realise after a few questions that there is no need for a WebEx at this time and instead the actual problem needs to be better understood or that that issue is resolved by a neat Knowledge Base article.
    WebEx should be used, but only when the problem is understood and the analyst has received enough information from their customer to determine “Yes, we need to connect and show them this as I cannot see it my side, or if I show them once – they will be good for the future.

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