No one wants to be the bearer of bad news.
As a business owner, there will be times when you’ll have to make a tough call and deliver less-than-stellar updates to your clients. And if you don’t deliver that news in a respectful manner that makes your client feel like their needs are being heard and addressed, then you risk losing their business—and their referrals.
And that’s a nightmare you want to avoid at all costs.
Because while price increases and production delays aren’t the most popular topics to discuss, they also give you the opportunity to strengthen relationships with your clients by treating them like the valued business partners they are.
If you want to deliver bad news and still come out looking like a hero, follow my tips below.
Tip #1: Don’t Delay
Deliver your message as soon as possible, preferably face-to-face or over the phone. Don’t hide behind an email (and definitely don’t send it over a text message). Your client deserves respect and speed, and no one wants to feel like they’re being hidden from the truth. Communicate the issue as soon as you can to avoid raising suspicion or concern.
The last thing you need is for your clients to think they can’t depend on you or trust what you have to say. Trust is everything in business.
Tip #2: Don’t Sugarcoat The Truth
You may be tempted to tell your client that everything will be okay or it could be worse. But these phrases rarely reassure anyone, and they usually result in more questions from your client.
Instead, try being open and honest about the situation at hand. Explain what happened in detail, and why it did. Be clear and direct.
Tip #3: Offer Solutions
After learning that something hasn’t gone according to plan—or has gone horribly wrong—the next thing clients will be concerned about is how you plan on dealing with it.
So, before you share your bad news, make sure you’ve already thought of a solution and come up with ideas for how you plan on fixing the problem.
Then, present those ideas to your client.
This shows that you’re committed to resolving the issue as quickly as possible and mitigating any damage it might do to your business relationships.
Tip #4: Show Your Appreciation
No matter how upset or disappointed your client may be about something that hasn’t gone according to plan, never show a lack of appreciation for their business. Your clients are the reason you have a business in the first place, so don’t forget to thank them—and demonstrate your gratitude when communicating bad news.