As a business owner or a PO manager you will sometimes be unable to fulfill the customer’s wishes or to work with them for some other reason. Rejecting a customer is not easy and if you don’t do it right you risk alienating that customer from your business forever. This is why it’s important to know how to reject a customer’s purchase order.
Why Would You Reject a Customer’s Purchase Order?
There are basically two types of customers you can reject a PO from. The first one you don’t want to work with in the future for one reason or another. Perhaps your company already had some issues with this customer, such as late or slow payments, discrepancies in their previous purchase orders, bad credit and so on. Declining this customer’s purchase order is just a convenient way to cut any ties with them in a polite “thank you for your business, but kindly take it elsewhere” way.
In other scenarios, however, you might want to continue your dealings with the client, but can’t accept their PO. For instance, there may be nothing wrong with the customer per se, but your company doesn’t have the quantities of goods they are looking for or the shipping deadline is too narrow. In this case, instead of losing the client (probably to your competitors), you should sit with the client (or have a phone call), explain the situation and try and find a way to solve the problem in a way that benefits both sides.
What to Say to the Rejected Customer?
Sometimes, telling the whole truth is not a good idea. You want to avoid telling the client anything that can put your company in a bad light. Things like “we are having financial trouble” or “the IRS is currently investigating us” are not something the customer will be happy to hear. In fact, it will probably send them a signal to take their business (and money) elsewhere.
Still, you need a reason for declining a customer’s purchase order. This can be a simple “we apologize, but we can’t take any more clients at the moment” or “we’re sorry, but we can’t fulfill this PO in that deadline”. What you choose to tell the clients will depend on whether you want to work with them in the future or not.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to go into details. Just provide a general, but clear reason for declining.
Do You Want to Keep the Customer?
The issue may not be with the client. In fact, you might want to continue working with them, but for whatever reason you have to decline their PO. Instead of just shutting the door, try extending your hand to help solve the problem. For instance, if you’re not able to fulfill the purchase order in that quantity, let them know and ask if they can extend the deadline or allow you to send the order in parts.
If, on the other hand, you can’t find a way to fix the problem, there is still one thing you can do to help the customer. Tell them where they can complete their order. It’s not perfect and you’ll be sending the customer to your competition, but you’ll stay in their good graces. And, who knows, maybe the competitor will return the favor?
Rejection is just a part of life (and business). Sometimes you just have to do it. The important thing to remember when you reject a customer’s purchase order is to be clear and polite.
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