Is Your Cultural Default Set to Yes?

Lauren Krause
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As more customers take to social media to remark on bad customer service, increasing numbers of companies are making it a priority to say "yes" to the customer. When your company's cultural default is set to "yes," customers are no longer frustrated at being shunted from department to department or being disappointed because they can't get what they want to buy. Make "yes" the default answer to keep customers and employees happy.

Make "Yes" the Default Answer

In far too many companies, the automatic answer customers receive is "no," even when they're not asking for anything special. If you make saying "yes" your default answer, your customers notice. This attitude typically takes a companywide effort, since so many customer service personnel have been accustomed for so long to keep saying "no."

Empower Your Employees to Say "Yes"

The first step to creating a default of "yes" is for you, as the boss, to start modeling saying "yes" yourself. This gives your employees permission to do the same. Tell your employees that their priority is to serve customers, then back that up with your actions. Free employees to make decisions that go beyond the employee handbook as long as they're in the customer's best interests. Boost this new attitude in the company by watching for it in your hiring process, making it a quality that your human resources people and job recruiters value highly.

Define Your Customer Service

Creating a companywide definition of your customer service is a great way to help establish a new customer service culture within your company. Work to develop a succinct motto that works at every level of your company, akin to Ace Hardware's "Helpful" or Ritz-Carlton's "Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." Once you have this handy definition, you can let your employees use it as a mantra when making tough customer service decisions.

Reward the Cultural Default of "Yes"

Praise the employees who provide exemplary customer service through saying "yes." Celebrate the moments when an employee goes above and beyond the call of duty, and provide perks, awards or bonuses for the employees who do so. In too many companies, employees who go out of their way for customers are chided for wasting company time or stepping beyond the bounds of their positions. If you have managers stuck in this old way of thinking, take the time to win them over to a culture of "yes," or find a way to move them away from customer service.

When employees see other employees being applauded for saying "yes," you begin a happy cycle of behavior that can spread through your entire company. Your goal should be that employees automatically respond with "yes" before your customers have even finished making their requests.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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