Customers really don’t like to hear bad news, actually, none of us does. Bad news is no fun at all, but sometimes we can’t avoid it.
So, what is the best way to handle a bad news?
The answer is: tell it early.
The sooner you can communicate what might be bad news to a customer, the more control the customer has over the outcome. Therefore, procrastination is not advisable in delivering bad news. The timing and tone of bad news will decide the reaction of customer.
I would never advise, to go to your customer with saying, something can’t be done.
Rather tell them why it can’t be done, and what you can offer them as alternative. Giving the news early and providing some alternatives will help them to manage or control the consequences.
I would like to share one of my real life story as a customer.
I had to travel to a country which was much colder than mine (India), so I was doing some shopping for winter clothes.
It was month of April and most of the stores in India had put the winter clothes back in warehouses. I had no luck in finding the winter clothes, then I thought of trying some online stores. Fortunately I could find something to order. I placed this particular order with a very renown store.
Order was confirmed, and they promised to deliver it in a week. But they didn’t, and after 10 days I reached their customer service.
The answer I got was surprising, “We are working to procure item from other stores, will deliver soon”. After 15 days of order confirmation, they wrote me saying “We tried hard, but could not arrange the ordered item”.
I was shocked to hear that because my travel date was almost there. They didn’t even provide me any alternatives.
I reacted very badly to this response, just because they didn’t inform me on time. Now I had no time to work for some alternative.
So, where did the store fail in my case; they gave bad news very late and that too without any alternative solutions.
If they had told me earlier, I would have arranged something. I would not have been a dissatisfied customer, rather a neutral one. And this news would have just a neutral news to me instead of a very bad one.
Now, I will always avoid shopping with them, now they have lost a customer, just because they didn’t give the news early enough.
What really made this bad news was, not that they did not have the items, it was that by the time they told me I had no time to solve the situation.
So, lesson here is this, if you have to give bad news, then give it early, and provide some alternative solutions if possible.