Freelancers and small businesses are always looking for more customers, and, as we know at Robin HQ, customers tend to come to places with better service, that provide them with what they are looking for efficiently and politely. But still, there are 4 words, that you need to think about carefully before you tell them to your customers:

1. ‘Yes’

Don’t say ‘yes’, unless you really mean it.

If a customer asks you ‘can you do this extra page for me by tomorrow’, you might be tempted to say ‘Yes’. But if you can’t get it done on time, then the customer won’t remember your answer, they’ll just remember your poor service.

If you’re asked, will you develop a new feature, and you say ‘Yes’, when they come back the week after (and they will), will the answer really be ‘yes’? Or ‘maybe’?

Don’t answer ‘Yes’ unless you can really back it.

2. ‘Free’

‘Free’ is always a difficult word. First of all, your time is money. If you are working on something, it should never be ‘Free’. Second, this creates all sorts of difficult expectations. If this logo change I asked for is free, why isn’t that page change also free? Third, when you have to deal with three tasks, and one is ‘free’ – what tasks will you deal with straight away and what tasks will you put off again and again?

Take this example – SimplePress (a WordPress plugin) suddenly started charging money for their previously free support. It didn’t go down well with the community.

Again, if you are offering something for free when you really mean it, say, Facebook, or MailChimp, then it isn’t always a bad idea – but think about it carefully before you do.

3. ‘No’

When you say ‘No’ to your client, you are basically cutting off negotiation. The ‘No’ word is uncompromising, a ‘take it or leave it’ position. It forces a decision on your customer, either ‘OK, I’ll go with you’, or ‘Goodbye’. If your business is an online retail store – the abundance of offers and options means that most people will leave as soon as they get a ‘No’, off to other sites where they will get what they perceive to be better service.

So when you do say ‘No’, think if that’s what you really want to say, or whether you still have a venue of negotiation left to you.

What about you? Do you know any words that you mustn’t say to customers?