Tips on delivering bad news
Customer Service is easy of course when you’re delivering good news. “Yes of course, we have those in stock, and we can send one out to you later today.” Great. When all your processes and systems come together and work in the way they were intended, it is a great and largely transactional job.
The challenge comes of course when you or your customer service team has to deliver bad news. Delivery times have slipped – AGAIN! Or the customer has been overcharged, or received the wrong item, or possibly the worst of all, the customer has already called in with an issue, complaint or problem and now they’re having to chase it up, because no-one has got back to them. This is a hot topic on our customer service courses. And one we had a lively discussion about recently at a course in Leicester.
Avoid the word ‘No.’ The word ‘No’ is such a confrontational word. It is the ultimate negative. The person saying ‘No’ to a customer in response to a question or a request gives the customer nowhere to go. It turns them down as if it is a case of one person wins, the other person loses. It implies you’re not prepared to think about it, consider other options or offer alternatives. Usually then in a state of frustration, the customer becomes more agitated. So avoid the word ‘No’ where you can. Although the answer may be ‘No’ there are ways of presenting this far better. “While we can’t do that at this time, what I suggest is …………………….” is a better way of playing it. Even “unfortunately we don’t offer that, but ………” You get the idea.
Stay away from ‘problems.’ Using the word ‘problem’ to a customer is best avoided too. If you’re using the word ‘problem’ it gives away what you’re thinking. It implies you think this situation is a problem “We’ve got a few problems with that product.” Or “that’s going to be a bit of a problem to me” are all quite negative in their tone. So instead think positively, train your brain if necessary and you’ll soon find yourself saying “Ok, I understand, well I’ve got a solution for you.” Or possibly “we’re out of stock at the moment but we’ve got this other product which will give you everything you’re looking for …..”
Can’t, won’t and don’t. For the same reasons, try to avoid these 3 little negative words. Instead stay focused on what you can do. Not what you can’t. Be orientated around solutions, options, alternatives and damage limitation. Even least worst options can help considerably.
We cover this approach in our 2 day customer service courses in Leicester and Northampton. The 40 minute session ‘Language to influence’ covers these 3 No Nos and a whole host of others. To Market carries out telephone skills training for customer service as well as telesales and telemarketing.