Handling Customer Requests for “An Exception”

Refusing A Customer Request For You To Make An Exception

Customers are always asking for exceptions, since they feel their circumstances are somehow special. The “Can’t you do this just this once” request is one that can be annoying to you, because it’s either whining, or aggressive, or worse, both.

The way you respond to these requests can make the difference between having a whole lot of drama, and extended time wasting discussion, and the customer accepting that s/he can’t have that exception.

Three Principles To Apply

  • Make sure you can’t meet the request before refusing it. Sometimes it’s possible for someone to authorize the exception — a manager, for example, so it’s good to check first. Besides, when you check first, the customer will realize that at least your are trying your best.
  • Don’t use short, uninformative responses like “That’s against our policy” since customers don’t care about YOUR policy. You need to provide some explanation along with the refusal.
  • Be helpful. Try to provide some alternative that you CAN do to do SOMETHING for the customer, even if it’s not exactly what the customer is demanding.


Customer: Can’t you make an exception just this once, and let my dog stay in my room? We’re really tired.

Hotel Employee: I understand you must be tired after a long travel day, but the reason we can’t allow pets is that some customers are allergic or uncomfortable around animals.

What I CAN do is refer you to another hotel down the road that is pet friendly. It’s only about 5 minutes away. We’d hate to lose you, but I understand you need to accommodate your pet.

Author: Robert Bacal

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