How To Deliver Bad News To A Customer

In every customer-facing role, be it in retail, trade, or service provider, breaking bad news to your customers will be inevitable. While it may not be something you face every day, it’s significantly important to have your staff prepared to deal with these situations in a way that doesn’t jeopardise business and sales. This is especially true for the trade industry. Whether it’s an unexpected shortage in supplies, an unforeseen delay due to the weather or even an increase in pricing, handling these situations with consideration will help to maintain your credibility, trustworthiness and customer satisfaction.

With this in mind, here at Powered Now, we have compiled some effective strategies that your trade business can implement alongside our business’s management software to proactively communicate bad news to customers in an empathetic yet concise manner. 

Getting Prepared

There will come a time when you know this bad news is going to need to be discussed with clients. So before delivering it, you must collect all the facts. As the person communicating the hows, why and whats to the customer, you should ensure you have a full understanding of the situation yourself so you can explain this in as much detail as necessary, all while being able to answer the unavoidable questions that will follow. Not only will all the facts put your customers at ease, and allow them to be more understanding of the issues, it will offer you the confidence needed to communicate with them in an accurate yet professional fashion.

Transparency & Honesty

As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Never sugarcoat the details of the situation, this only leads to greater frustration and a lack of accountability. Transparency builds trust and enables these types of situations to be handled in a friendly, respectful and professional way. Always be upfront and never hide any important information from them.

Be Empathetic

Just like you, your customers are entitled to feel disheartened, annoyed and concerned about this news when you break it to them - consider how you would feel if this was happening to you. It’s incredibly important to acknowledge your customers' feelings when breaking the bad news. Wording this in a way that shows you appreciate the inconvenience and understand the way they feel about it enables you to humanise the situation and relay that you care about your customers' satisfaction.

Solutions & Incentives

Never go into these conversations empty-handed. While some aspects may be out of your control (i.e. new timeframes if supply is short), always offer a reason and an incentive to stay with your business. For example, offering a more effective payment plan if prices are increasing or offering a discount if there is a delay may help mitigate the impact of that bad news. This shows customers you are considerate and sorry about the situation, all while offering solutions and remaining proactive.

The Compliment Sandwich

If you haven’t heard of it, this technique proves very effective when delivering bad news and is used widely by many customer-facing industries. This technique sees you deliver bad news between two positive statements. This softens the blow of the disheartening updates while also leaving a somewhat positive impression on the customer. While they may be delayed, there are positives to think about, too!

Delivering bad news is never easy, although the way you approach the situation will determine how pleasant it will be. With the strategies mentioned above, alongside a well-managed, professional and productive team with the likes of Powered Now’s trade business management software, you really can set yourself up for success.

Building and maintaining a positive reputation and your customers' trust is essential. It’s important to remember a well-handled situation can turn a moment of disappointment into a demonstration of your commitment to excellent customer service.

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