I’ve got some bad news

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It’s usually best to deliver bad news to a client by phone or in person, not by email or letter.

As I said in a previous post, “You can explain what happened, answer the client’s questions, discuss the options, and work together to find the path forward.”

Your tone of voice tells the client how you feel about the issue. He’ll hear your concern and appreciate that you personally called.

They may still be upset, but being able to talk to you will help.

Especially if you are responsible for the bad news.

Not only that, according to science, delivering bad news by email can make things worse because the words tend to linger long after you send them.

Sometimes, however, it’s okay to deliver bad news via email or letter. Announcing an across the board fee-increase would be an example.

But when it comes to managing your client’s experience, it isn’t necessarily the news that’s the issue, it’s what you say when you deliver the news.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Don’t delay. You don’t want the client to find out from someone else or, in the case of a fee increase, when they receive their next bill. You don’t want to have to explain why you didn’t tell them right away.
  2. Be direct. Get to the point and tell them plainly what happened or what you’re doing. Don’t try to sugarcoat it.
  3. Put things in perspective. “Here’s what happened/will happen, here’s why, and here’s what this means going forward”
  4. Apologize (if it was your fault), explain (if it wasn’t).
  5. Empathize. Let them know that you feel bad or you understand how they must feel.
  6. Say thank you for their understanding, patience, cooperation and/or their allegiance.
  7. Let them know you are available if they have questions or want to talk.

And that’s it. Simple, direct, and personable. The way you’d like to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot.

Good client relations is the key to client referrals

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