Rejection: Don’t Take It Personally

In my spare time I have been dabbling with gardening.  I say “dabbling” because I can’t say “saving money by growing my own food” or anything like that.  I need to first learn how to overcome pests before I can say that.  Last week we were at the local nursery purchasing some winter vegetables for the garden.

I took my stuff up to the counter to pay and the cashier went into her typical upsell asking “Have you considered using this 329088-winter-vegetablesproduct for $8.99 to help your roots establish properly when you transplant?”  Having heard this particular upsell previously, I quickly said “No, I’ve heard about that stuff but not today.”  She then responded saying “Well you should be using it.  It’s proper horticulture” and trust me it was not delivered with a friendly, “I care about your garden” of voice.  It came across more as “I am the expert and know more about gardening than you and can’t believe you wouldn’t spend the extra $8.99 for this product.”

In her post entitled “Creating A Great Experience With Non-Customers” Melissa Kovacevic (@MKCallConsult) talks about the importance of training call center employees to properly handle rejection.  She says “We should be creating a positive experience, showing appreciation to and interest in every person we are in contact with” and if we fail to do so, we risk the customer or prospect telling many people about their poor experience.

Back to my encounter with the Horticultural Expert, take a lesson from me and don’t play the expert card ever.  I’ve tried that and customers just get more angry typically responding with “I don’t care if you’re the expert, I’m the customer.”  A better response when I said “No” would have been “No problem at all.  It’s always here if you want to try it in the future” and then thank me for spending $50 on plants and being a loyal customer.  I’m not sure that was enough to lose my business but I’ll be interested to see how it goes next time I hear this same upsell.


Jeremy Watkin is a Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • Hi Jeremy!

    Thanks for quoting my recent post in your blog. It truly is amazing how many retail cashiers receive minimal training and coaching on how to create a wonderful Customer Experience. Apparently some small business owners do not understand the importance of coaching skills with these key customer(and prospect) facing employees or think it’s not worth the time to do it.

    They are missing the great opportunity for their smaller local business to provide the “Wow” service that will bring customers back to them in lieu of going to the big chain stores or purchasing online.

    • Hey Melissa,

      Thanks so much for your comments. Reading your post really got me thinking about the importance of training for this and I’m now discussing with our team how to do this better. I am going to make sure this is a part of role play scenarios specifically for sales calls.


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