Give Customers Bad News Faster!

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to Give Customers Good News Fast and Bad News Faster!

No normal person wants to be the bearer of bad news. Human nature shies away from this task. When I started in sales, I did not realize I was doing this. I was in high school, working at a gas station that rented U-Haul trucks and trailers. The owner did a nice job of training me, but I worked some of the slower hours, and would spend time reading the U-Haul manual. I learned the nuances of the rate charts, including surcharges. We had a competitor in town and potential customers would call both of us looking for quotes. The price they received from me was often higher, and yet they would still rent from us. On many occasions, they told the owner that they came to us after they spoke with both dealers because they realized that our high price was the accurate price. We had nothing hidden, no surprise surcharges, all costs explained. They received the total cost of the rental, good or bad, upfront. More details please

As my business career progressed, I had many occasions where it was necessary to deliver bad news to a customer. The most serious of these was when a colleague and I went into a major North American manufacturer a few hours after a major equipment breakdown at one of our plants. We told them that we potentially might be unable to supply a key component for one of their most profitable product lines for 3 months. We gave them the worst scenario first. We expected to be carried out of there on stretchers. Instead, after a stunned silence, the group began to brainstorm options to keep the component moving to them from other, still to be approved, locations. After a couple of hours of working on our options, we left with an action plan. We also left with the thanks of our customer for getting with them so early in the process and allowing them to develop options while there was still time to act.

In your career, you will have many occasions where you need to impart bad news. Do it. Do it quickly and do it professionally. But most importantly, Give Customers Good News Fast and Bad News Faster!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.