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America’s Speech Patterns: 50 ways to say “No”

If you’ve ever called a company to book an appointment, you probably consulted your calendar first. Maybe you squeezed in a dental checkup on your lunch hour. Maybe you got your oil changed before work. When you called the company looking for an appointment at a specific date and time, they probably told you one of two things: yes or no.

It seems straightforward—the company either has the appointment time available or they don’t. You can have it or you can’t. Yes or no. Simple, right?

Turns out that it’s more complicated. The Marchex Institute analyzed more than 450,000 calls and found that there are at least 50 different ways that brands can reject their customers. Using Marchex’s proprietary technology that leverages natural language processing, the ways that agents said no looked more like this:

Rectangle of No's

The interesting part of the analysis was learning why the employee answering the phone said “no.” Certainly, sometimes the appointment you want is already taken, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But frequently, companies were turning away a customer because of things that could have been prevented.

Consider this: On average, brands rebuffed customers 28% more on weekend calls. During the week, agents said no on approximately 7 percent of phone calls with customers. During the weekend, that number went up to 9 percent.

There were two main reasons, according to the analysis:

  1. First, some agents were unable to order parts on the weekend.
  2. The second reason was that some locations were busier on weekends. This makes sense, particularly if you work in auto services or any other business that depends on people’s availability outside of work. Getting your oil changed or getting new tires requires dropping off your car, and that’s frequently easier on the weekend.

To solve these issues, brands should consider investing in software or technology that allows agents to request items like brake pads or tires to accelerate a customer’s ability to book and receive the services they are seeking.  In addition, while managers often ensure adequate staffing levels to help customers inside their retail locations; they should consider the potential impact of appropriately staffing their telephones as well.

To learn more, view the infographic on America’s Speech Patterns or learn about the impact of saying ‘No’, and get some tips to increase your ability to say ‘Yes’.