How to Communicate Bad News to Customers
When I worked at Samsung, I had to call Walmart and tell them a huge shipment was going to be late. Fun, huh? I actually had to make that kind of call all the time, because, let’s face it, shit happens (and it happens by the ton for a huge global business like I was running). So I want to share five secrets to communicate bad news in the best possible way.
Even though we bust our butts to please our customers, things go wrong. Now there’s nothing you can do, and your customer is going to be pissed. I’m sure some (or all!) of these things have happened to you:
- Something bad happened externally (delay from a subcontractor, price increase from a supplier, natural disaster, etc.)
- Something bad happened internally (an employee screwed up, critical information got lost, scheduling mistake, etc.)
- Saying no to a special request (can’t get that product, can’t meet that timeline, etc.)
- Negative policy changes you’re making (price increase, tightened return policy, instituting a no-show penalty, etc.)
Telling the customer can be really scary! Especially if it’s a big customer, or a big opportunity. Or if it affects lots of your customers.
Here’s what you need to do to get the best possible result with your customer.
Here’s Exactly What to Say
To make it easy for you, I’m happy to send you a 1-pager with 3 sample scripts for delivering bad news. You can copy this exact language!
Share Your Thoughts
How do you break the bad news to customers? Share your tips (or battle stories) below!