Just About to ....
Give A Customer Bad News

(Tip 1 of 12)

Decide what the outcome is that you ideally want, maybe also with a back-up outcome. Just telling them what has happened is nowhere near as good as having a plan for what you want to happen next.

(Tip 2 of 12)

Show them the facts, ideally ones that aren’t your fault.

(Tip 3 of 12)

Be up front: “There is a problem, but I have some plans about what we can do about it”

(Tip 4 of 12)

Produce a one page summary of the situation. This helps you get it clear in your head, and also you can get the wording carefully correct, and then leave it with them after the meeting.

(Tip 5 of 12)

Give them several options for any problems, ideally with a recommended choice.

(Tip 6 of 12 )

Don’t be tempted to just email the news to the customer. Face to face is better, because you need to explain it properly, and then gauge their reaction.

(Tip 7 of 12 )

Make sure they really understand how bad you feel about what has happened – often suppliers appear not to care, which is extra crazy if they in fact DO care!

(Tip 8 of 12 )

hink about when is the best time to talk with the customer. Personally I don’t recommend giving ME bad or complicated news before about 11 in the morning!

(Tip 9 of 12 )

Don’t waffle, or overdo the apologising, just tell them what’s happened so far and what is going to happen next.

(Tip 10 of 12 )

If you want them to solve problems or make decisions, make it easy for  them – give them a suggested solution all fully worked out, that they just have to approve.

(Tip 11 of 12)

Remember that customers vary – some want lots of detail while some want a short report of the key facts.

(Tip 12 of 12 )

If it is you that has screwed up, consider offering the customer  something to make it up to them, like a discount, or, better, extra product  or service from you, maybe something they haven’t had from you before (this costs you less and might end up with more sales in the end).

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