How do you tell your customer that you cannot complete the job at the time it was promised? How do you tell your customer that what you thought was a minor problem is a major one and that the cost exceeds the estimate you gave him?
When a customer misunderstands what your products and services can do for him and he is expecting more than you can deliver, what do you tell him? How do you tell a customer that the product you shipped to him was the wrong one and you need to change them? Whether you like it or not, you must break bad news to your customers once in a while.
A soldier stationed overseas phoned home. His brother answered and promptly told him, “Your cat fell off the roof and died.” “That’s a terrible way to break bad news,” the soldier replied. “You didn’t have to hit me with it so sudden. Bad news should be broken to people gradually.
For example, you could have begun by telling me that the cat was playing on the roof. Then you could have mentioned that he got too close to the edge. Then you could have said that he fell off the roof and was injured.
And then you could have said that you rushed him to the vet but he died later from the injuries.” “Gee, I’m sorry,” said to the brother. “That’s OK,” replied the soldier. “At least you’ll know better next time. How’s Mom?” After a long pause the brother answered, “She’s playing on the roof.”-Michael Leboeuf.
This humorous story tells us that we must break bad news to customers, but the way we go about it will determine what happens next. If you break the bad news wrongly, the customer may take his business elsewhere and tell others how bad you are.
When you discover that the customer is going to be disappointed, it’s only normal not to want to give him the bad news. But it’s also the worst possible thing you can do. It’s far better to tell the customer and take the heat than it is to keep him in the dark and ultimately lose him.
Whenever things go wrong that will affect the customer, let him know immediately. While the message may be initially disappointing, keeping customers informed builds the confidence and trust necessary for a continuing relationship.
On the other hand, letting the customer find out the bad news for himself magnifies and multiplies the disappointment. In fact, the customer will feel you are taking him for a ride or you feel he cannot do anything.
Do something special for the customer to offset the hurt. Customers exchange their money for good feeling. When you disappoint a customer, you’re simply hurting or withdrawing the good feeling they are expecting. So it is important that you make a deposit to offset, or at least minimize the withdrawal.
If as a tailor you damaged a customer’s material, don’t just tell him that you damaged it, make amends. Tell him you have purchase another material and that you are working very hard to make things right. If you do that, the customer will feel indebted to you and may even refund the money.
When things go wrong, apologize and take total responsibility for setting things straight. Do not blame anybody for it, make amends. The customer do not want to know the reasons why something went around, he want results.
If you know how the incident can be prevented, don’t tell the customer. In fact, correct the incident and move on. There is no need telling the customer what you have already corrected unless the product belongs to the customer.
If you sold a television to a customer and it got damaged in your warehouse, you don’t need to start explaining how it happened to your customer, change the television. But if the customer brought the television for repairs and it got damaged, you must inform him whether you changed it or not.
Remember that how people react to bad news depends largely on how you tell them. Nothing turns a customer off faster than giving him a flat “no” or bad news at onset.
Be positive and try to phrase your message by telling the customer what you can do for him. For example, if the model of the product a customer ordered for is not available, don’t just say “Sorry sir, it’s not available.” Tell him why the new model is better than the one he ordered!
Customers wants to hear good news all the time. So look for ways to break bad news like good news. Instead of dwelling on what happened, emphasize more on what you can do to remedy the situation.
Probably you couldn’t finish making the wedding dress on time, tell the customer that everybody in your organization will work all through the night to make sure the dress is delivered before 6AM tomorrow morning. It’s better that way than telling him you couldn’t meet up.
In conclusion, try as much as possible to do what you said you will do. Our strategy at King’s Uncommon Wisdom Limited is to under-promise and over-deliver. We are always careful not to say what we cannot do just to get your money. Integrity is very important in business.
If you want to create a solid customer services management structure, you can scroll up, click on our solutions and you will see the customer service icon. Click on it and tell us how we can help you. You can equally call us on 07032681154. See you at the top!
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