Q: What is your favorite tip for softening bad news to a customer or client?
Offer a positive initiative. “Stuff happens, as they say. It’s how you deal with it that speaks volumes. So if you have bad news to break, first have a positive attitude. Second, have a plan. Something a simple as: ‘Unfortunately X happened, but we remain optimistic that Y will occur because we’re doing Z.’ This will go a long way in relieving them of their worries while keeping you positive and focused on a solution.” Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
Tell them you’re upset. “Start off by telling your client that you are upset or bummed out. Immediately this puts you on the same side as your client, who will inevitably also be upset by the bad news. Next, let them know that you have some ideas to help overcome this hiccup but want to know if they have any great ideas as well. Collaborating for a team solution will help further bond you and your client.” Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
Make sure they know you care. “Bad things happen in any client relationship. But it’s important to let them know that you are taking it just as seriously as they are, and that you care about what happened. Empathy can go a long way toward mending fences when things go wrong.” Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift
Be frank about it. “People are sophisticated enough to see through a lot of your attempts to soften bad news. Just be forthcoming with it and tell them — not with a mean or indifferent attitude, but with honesty. They’ll appreciate that you’re leveling with them, and they might be more willing to work with you on finding a solution to the problem than if you’d tried to sugarcoat it.” Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
Frame it with a new solution. “Never start with, ‘We can’t do this.’ Instead, start with, ‘This is what we’re doing, and this is why it’s a better alternative to the one we had originally outlined.’ Clients want solutions, not problems.” Benish Shah, Refinery 29
Don’t soften it. “Be straightforward and honest in delivering bad news and then move on.” Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal, P.C.