Salespeople hate to deliver bad news. I mean – really hate it. Of course, no one wants to be the bad guy when it comes to customers, but salespeople especially hate it. Why? Because much of their career is based upon being liked and it isn’t easy to get someone to like you when you tell them something they don’t want to hear. This is made all the worse when your commission check depends on what information you have to share with customers. We’ll do everything we can to sugarcoat the message, delay sharing the message, and add a little prayer in hopes that the bad news will disappear quietly. But there is some good news about delivering bad news.
We create moments of truth in a series of actions with our clients to create an overall customer experience. Truth is the operative word and it’s not that customers want the truth; they want their truth. It’s up to you to bridge this gap between the two and when you do it successfully, you can strengthen the customer’s loyalty. Some bad news can be a deal-breaker, but oftentimes you can recover from bad news if you deliver it properly. So the good news about the bad news is that once you master the art of delivering it, you develop the reputation of being honest and trustworthy and, given the overall experience, the customer is more likely to do business with you anyway after you get them through this moment of truth about the bad news. Here are the best ways to handle delivering bad news to your customers.
- Do not be afraid – Your fear will trigger fear in your customer if you are not careful. Stay calm and be ready to approach the situation with truth, understanding, and a willingness to listen.
- Do not delay – You don’t have to rush delivering bad news when you don’t have all of the information, but don’t delay sharing once you do. It appears dishonest to the customer.
- Be truthful – Altering or misrepresenting information will always make matters worse. I can understand if there are details you want to omit, and sometimes that’s okay, but bad news served with lies is never a good idea.
- Acknowledge the customer’s feelings – Customers are more likely to be responsive to bad information once they feel that they have been heard and understood. If it’s a big deal to them then it is a big deal to you.
- Offer solutions – There are always options, even if they aren’t optimal in comparison to what the customer originally wanted or expected. Delivering bad news without a solution is like pushing the customer out into the cold. Show them that you are thinking and working on their behalf and you stand a much better chance of retaining their business.