Breaking bad news to customers is not an easy task. However, occasionally, it's a duty that many business people must carry out with empathy and professionalism.
Here are five strategies for delivering the message with compassion
Tell the truth. People tend to fear what they do not understand. Put
the situation into perspective for your customer. Give as much
information as you can about the who, what, when, where and why.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes. It's useless and naïve to tell
customers not to worry or expect them not to get frustrated. They ARE
worried, and maybe even angry at how the events will affect them (or
their companies) personally. Don't leave them guessing. Give them all
Acknowledge their feelings. Don't invalidate their feelings by
suggesting the situation is "not that bad." This is also not a time for
humor. Let them vent. Negative emotions must be dealt with before they
can be replaced with a positive plan of action.
Take charge. Outline a specific plan of action that you and your
company will take. Assume ownership for the customer's situation.
Follow through. Make it your priority to track the progress on the customer's problem within your company. Make frequent status reports to the customer until the situation is resolved to his or her satisfaction.
About Susan Berkley:
Susan Berkley is CEO of The Great Voice Company providing voice prompts for phone systems in all languages. A top voiceover artist, she is one of the voices who says “Thank you for using AT&T” and best-selling author of “Speak To Influence:How to unlock the hidden power of your voice.”
About The Great Voice Company:
The Great Voice Company, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a full service recording and digitizing facility specializing in voice prompts, finds and records the best native professional speakers in any language for all types of telephone applications. Great Voice has recorded over 2 million voice prompts in hundreds of languages since 1987.
Published: Thursday, August 8, 2002