5 Alternatives to “I Don’t Know”


I had an interaction with a staff member at a local business yesterday that involved me wanting to pay for something and her not knowing how to charge me. Instead of getting an answer, she shrugged her shoulders and looked to me for the answer. Not having any inside knowledge, I did not have the answer, so the purchase was not made. This is exactly why one of our core principles at Monscierge is that it be easy to do business with us.

With that in mind, I went back to a pep talk from one of my first bosses. I had the privilege of working directly for owners in my first three jobs which gave me access to leaders who had a 100& stake in the business’ success. They understood how much of that responsibility rested in their staff and the tools they provided to us. This particular boss was a passionate speaker and fantastic motivator, and I often revisit his insights.

It is from him that I learned these five things to say instead of “I don’t know.”

  1. Let me find out – this is to be used every time in place of “I don’t know”
  2.  There is another way to do this – Sometimes when an issue can’t be resolved in the way the guest wants, it can be done another way
  3. I will get someone who does – If the staff member has no way to find out on their own, they should always find someone up the ladder who can figure it out.
  4. We will take care of this – Assure the guest that they are not responsible for figuring out the problem, it will be handled.
  5. Good question. How about I try… – Actively work on finding a solution in a way that the guest can see.

The basic idea is that when a guest has a question or problem, the staff member sees it through all the way to end rather than sending guests to find the answers. The staff member advocates for the guest until a satisfactory solution has been found and everybody walks away happy.