Delivering Bad News to Your Customer

Delivering bad news is something we all have to do. We don’t have to like doing; I mean, who does?

I sat down with Shore Consulting trainer Jeremiah Gore to discuss this subject.

JEFF: Jeremiah, tell us a little bit about your role here at Shore Consulting. 

JEREMIAH: Take all those years of blood, sweat, and tears in operations in home building, and now let’s go out there and talk to production teams. Builders are looking to elevate that experience for customers and take that buyer journey focus that we’ve had on the sales side and expand into the production side so that we can keep that emotional altitude high. We’re talking about from when they buy all the way through to handing over the keys.

JEFF: One of the things we sometimes have to do on the production and sales side is deliver bad news. Can you talk about critical components and how to do that effectively?

JEREMIAH: First, we have to set proper expectations. People like good surprises but not bad ones. Chances are  there are going to be some issues along the way. When you deliver the bad news, you can return to those expectations already in place.

You want to collect the facts before you make that phone call. You want to make sure you have an understanding from all sides and then don’t delay. The biggest thing we can take away from today’s call is don’t delay when delivering bad news.

JEFF: That speed component is critical. Another critical aspect is being honest, giving customers the whole truth, and not trying to sugarcoat what’s happening. I know you’ve seen that a lot where people thinking that they’re providing good customer care, in reality, are making the situation worse because, you know, they’re not lying, but they’re just presenting the truth differently. 

JEREMIAH: One of the things we talk about in our training is precisely that. We try to move away from what I was taught when I first started building. The old way sounds like this, “No, because I said so.” We’re moving to a “No, we don’t do that,  and here’s why we don’t.”

There’s a framework that we go through. But that “why we don’t” is a critical part of today’s society for people to buy and why we sometimes have to say no. The more transparent and honest we can be, the more effective that communication is going to be for sure.

JEFF: At what point is it appropriate to apologize when something goes wrong? Sometimes, the words “I’m sorry” mean an awful lot, and yet sometimes, our ego gets in the way. “Well, it’s not entirely my fault you’ve got part of this.” At what point is it appropriate to apologize? 

JEREMIAH: Immediately. It disarms the customer. They believe they’re walking into a situation where they’re going to have to fight for something, either because that’s what they’ve been told or what’s that’s what they have to do in their life. The faster we can say I’m sorry, even when we weren’t responsible for the issue, we can be apologetic at that moment.

It’s a segway into simply being empathetic. The more empathy we can show when someone’s going through a difficult situation, like an issue with their home being built, the faster we have more effective communication and the quicker we continue to maintain that trust they put in us when they bought a home from us.

JEFF: We’ve delivered some bad news. We did it quickly. We were honest about it, but now we’ve got to try to repair that relationship. Any advice or guidance on following up after we’ve delivered bad news to get this customer back on track and rebuild the relationship? 

JEREMIAH: First, we have to follow up. So often, we just assume that it’s been handled, that it’s resolved. It’s our responsibility to follow up, to make sure that it was not just done but done to the customer’s satisfaction.

Following up also gives us a chance to add value. It provides us with an opportunity to surprise and delight. It gives us a chance to reach back out and elevate that experience from not just – did the plumber show up? It’s an opportunity for us to be a little bit better than that. 

JEFF: Love it. Jeremiah Gore, thank you so much.

There you have it. Be quick, be honest, apologize when you need to and get that customer back on track. 

Until next time, learn more to earn more!

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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.