I’ll Deal with It Tomorrow


How to deliver a difficult message today!

How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you need to tell a customer something they don’t want to hear? For example, you have to share the news that a product is on backorder, a refund is not approved, a shipment is going to be late, a service is not available anymore, your fees have gone up since they last bought from you or a favorite product has been recalled.You may be tempted to fall back to the question, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” or you may even contemplate avoiding the situation altogether. The first approach creates a negative expectation and sets a negative tone. The second approach only postpones the inevitable and results in a missed opportunity to manage a relationship and satisfy a customer.

While it is true that delivering difficult messages is not the most enjoyable aspect of working with customers, following some simple steps can help you get your message across and accomplish your objective to keep your customer satisfied and happy with your company.

STEP ONE – Be positive and focus on customer needs.

Difficult messages does not have to mean “negative” messages. Be positive and focus on the needs of the person you are speaking with. Addressing their need up front and tailoring your response to that need shows that you are engaged and focused on their perspective. Tailoring a message that directly addresses what you will do to address their need sets the stage for a positive conversation.

STEP TWO – Give the customer “control” by giving them a choice of options.

When crafting your message, think of possible solutions or alternatives ahead of time. Even if you can’t deliver exactly what they want or need tell them what you can do and let them decide which option best meets their needs. This goes a long way in laying down the groundwork for future interactions.

STEP THREE – Provide explanations and not excuses.

Making excuses, only serves to remove the blame from you and sometimes even puts the blame on the customer. It is not effective, not professional and not appreciated. Be concise and direct and provide an understandable explanation as to what the situation is and what you can do about it. Your customer may not like what they are hearin, but at least they can understand the details behind the situation and see that you are working in their best interest. The mutual respect created as a result of your explanations creates loyalty and trust.

STEP FOUR – Avoid inflammatory words and phrases.

Think back to the times you have heard the words “No, I can’t”, “Unfortunately…” and “It is not my area.” You most likely felt shut down and not valued. Many an argument or complaint has been created as a result of negative words and defensive reactions. Negative words, sabotage your discussions, create negative reactions and lead to unsatisfied customers.

Positive phrases like “Yes, I can.” “Here is what I can do.” and “Here are the options.” go a long way in keeping the conversation positive. Pay attention to the words you use and the different reactions you get to certain “trigger” phrases.   Stick with the ones that get the best results.

By using the four simple steps above, you will find it easier to keep your customers happy by not putting off tomorrow what you can effectively manage today.

Written by Christine Galioto, Senior Training Consultant at Taylor Performance Solutions, Inc. Christine has been helping companies enhance the service they provide to their customers for over 20 years. Taylor Performance Solutions is a New York based consulting and training firm that specializes in customizing training to help employees sell more, service better, lead more effectively and train for results. For more information, visit www.taylorperformance.com or call (800) 610-8170.

© 2014 Taylor Performance Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.


Previous articleThe Ebola Virus Outbreak of 2014
Next articleFairy Tales – Parental Advisory Needed?
Linda Berke
Linda Berke has over 25 years’ experience in consulting, training and coaching. Prior to Taylor Performance Solutions, Ms. Berke was a Corporate Training Manager for two global financial institutions. While in these positions, her initiatives and training programs resulted in increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, increased employee satisfaction and expense reduction. Ms. Berke founded Taylor Performance Solutions in 2003 and her team specializes in developing customized learning experiences for businesses and individuals who want to increase sales, improve service, become more productive or improve management skills. Her team has experience in multiple industries and works with business with anywhere from 20 to 10,000 employees. Ms. Berke was featured on the Long Island, New York News 12 show Jobline that focused on “Enhancing Your Skills in the Workplace – Moving Up the Corporate Ladder” and has been featured in multiple Newsday and Long Island Business News articles. She served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Training and Development from 2005 to 2013. She was the Long Island Chapter President from 2006-2008 and 2012-2013. Ms. Berke is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and graduate of Villanova University. She can be reached at (800) 610-8170 or [email protected]. Or visit TAYLOR’s web site at www.taylorperformance.com.