The Power of Yes



I recently read that adverbs are one of the most common classes of words we say in our lives, and that the most used adverb is “NO”, which led me to wonder why we respond negatively so often.

Do we evaluate the consequences of saying “NO” so often? And why is “YES” not on the list of most used words? Would it not be desirable to use a more positive communication?

Do we evaluate the consequences of saying “NO” so often?

Often when we are faced with disruptive issues or disruptive ideas it is easier to say “NO” and thus avoid possible consequences of decisions in which we are not at all clear what the results will be.

This behavior is actually nothing more than a defense mechanism that, some more than others, we all have (human beings are defensive by nature) but which ends up limiting our ability to innovate and transform processes and behaviors.

For example, if you have children, it is likely that you have already said “NO” several times (e.g. it’s not time to play, you can’t go out with your friends, you can’t watch TV anymore, …) and most likely some of the answers were spontaneous and without considering whether at that moment it was the most appropriate response – it’s more comfortable to just get it over with!

This kind of behavior also occurs in our social and professional relationships. Those of us who have the responsibility of managing teams, for example, have already responded negatively to some ideas and opinions of our employees, I believe that most of the time in a conscious and well-founded way, but there may have been others where the “NO” came out spontaneously.

A recent article published in Forbes “The Power Of Yes: Why The Yes Mindset Leads To Innovation And Creates Great Leaders” highlights 4 major benefits of saying “YES” (although directed to team leadership it has equal applicability in family, social and professional relationships):

1. Saying YES makes us better listeners

Saying yes forces us to listen fully to an idea and evaluate not only the less positive side, but also its strengths. It allows us to switch places with the person who is proposing the idea to us and thus get a different perspective. And even if in the end we don’t consider the idea, we learn something new and it has helped us become better thinkers.

2. Saying YES encourages originality

Not all new ideas create value, but they contribute to pushing our boundaries. When a team member hears yes, he is encouraged to continue exploring his ideas and proposals, looking for new solutions, and setting new standards for himself. An immediate no, on the other hand, sends the message that the idea is not worth listening to, is demotivating, and causes him to stop looking for new solutions.

3. Saying YES strengthens teams

Saying NO immediately interrupts a conversation, saying YES forces us to pay attention to what others are thinking and communicating. When we listen to teams we are communicating that their opinion counts, we are empowering them in the decision making process.

4. Saying YES may be risky, but saying NO is even riskier

Upon further analysis one realizes that many successful managers are open to new ways of thinking and others are not. The irony is that successful managers, who are often extremely focused on their vision, are also aware of the fact that there is a much higher risk when you don’t step off your chosen path and don’t take risks once in a while. They realize that in order to achieve good results, they must say YES to fostering new ideas, pushing boundaries, and discovering new possibilities!

It’ s important to reflect deeply on the impacts of saying “NO” to the most important asset of most companies: the CLIENTS!

If all this is a reality in our family, social and professional relationships, there is no reason why it can’t also be a reality in our relationship with our CUSTOMERS, so it is important to reflect deeply on the impacts of saying “NO” to the most important asset of most companies: the CUSTOMERS!

At this point I could bring to discussion the old maxim that “The customer is always right!”, but if that were the case, then no company would respond negatively to any request from its customers. I prefer to approach the subject from the perspective of the impact it has for brands to not meet the expectations of their customers because “Customers are always right and they always have Emotion!”

How many companies have calculated the cost of saying “NO” to their customers? Are the possible costs of saying “YES” not lower than those of saying “NO”?

There are already brands that accept the return of purchased products without imposing a deadline for return, reinforcing the value proposition for consumers and simultaneously transmitting a message of confidence about the purchase process and subsequent return.

This positioning occurs because these brands have already concluded that any costs arising from an increase in returns is far outweighed by the benefits of not placing obstacles to their customers, for example, a customer who needs to return an item is already facing a stressful situation (justify the return, go to the store, wait for a refund, etc …) which if we add to this the non-acceptance of the return we are already facing a conflict situation which will have consequences in the future relationship of the customer with the brand.

On the contrary, when we say “YES” to a situation that, in principle, we wouldn’t expect such a response, we get an overcoming of the customer’s expectations, which will contribute to their loyalty and even to the increment of their relationship with the brand (there is a strong probability that these customers will increase the frequency and value of their purchases).

In the case of Worten, we concluded that customers who did not have an experience returning a product continued to buy and increased their average spend by 9%. On the other hand 15% of customers who had a less positive experience with the returns process did not buy again in our stores and those who continued to buy reduced their value and average spend by 50%.

One of the indicators that should be monitored on an ongoing basis is the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) since it has a strong relationship with the customer experience. The simplest way to calculate CLV is to multiply the following variables: Average Transaction Size x Number of Transactions x Retention Period. The result gives the average lifetime value of a customer based on existing data.

Some studies indicate that, on average, CLV is three times higher than the cost of acquiring a new customer, which reinforces the importance of focusing on retaining current customers and it is in this sense that it is more important to meet their expectations. For example, for a customer with a CLV above the average, does it make sense not to accept a return? – I don’t think so!

It is necessary to invest in improving the customer experience and thus seek to increase the CLV, not forgetting that the customer experience lasts after the purchase, so it is crucial that all processes are optimized for customer needs and that they can be activated with the least possible effort by customers (it should be measured through the Customer Effort Score).

In conclusion, the challenge is to provide customers with a seamless experience in which any barriers that customers may encounter during their relationship with the brand are eliminated and they say “YES” more often to their requests and needs – satisfied customers increase the frequency and value of their purchases and act as brand promoters!