How to Break Bad News to customers

video about breaking bad news to customersChances are, you and your team work hard to take care of customers. At times however, you may need to give customers bad news about delays, price increases, etc. Having trained teams on enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing complaints for over 30 years, I’ve discovered it’s not so much the policies and delays that annoy customers. It’s how we communicate bad news that determines whether we either help customers remain cool-headed, or launch them on a rant.

Check out this video where I share 5 common customer service excuses that bruise your brand. And I provide tips on how to adjust your communications - even when giving bad news - to make everyone’s day go better.

How to Motivate your Team beyond Money

How to Motivate your Team by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker and TrainerAs a leader, you know your effectiveness is measured not by what you accomplish; but by what you guide your team members to achieve. It’s not just a matter of getting marginal performers to improve. With today’s staffing shortages, we also risk losing our star performers when they don’t feel fully engaged at work. The issue is particularly critical now when team members are still feeling post pandemic lethargy.

That’s why in this video, you’ll discover 3 secrets to motivation I share with my client leadership teams. None require paying more in perks and salaries. All help both star employees and marginal employees feel more motivated to help your customers, and to help each other.

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Foul-ups that Boost Business

Jeff Mowatt holding wood bagWhat would you think of a driver who did this with your delivery? I’d ordered a supply of firewood from Timber Ridge Firewood, a company based several miles out of town. The delivery truck arrives as scheduled, but when I ask the young driver, Kolten about the canvas carrying bag that I’d also ordered, something unexpected happens. “Oh, no!” Kolten exclaims, “I completely forgot to bring it. Sorry about that! Tell you what, I’ll come by tonight on my own time and drop it off. If you’re not here I can hide it next to the stack. Would that be OK with you?”

I’m taken aback by this young man’s instant honesty. Many people would have deflected responsibility and blamed someone back at loading for the foul-up. The fact that he takes responsibility, apologizes, and offers to return later to drop it off has me wondering, did this kid go to one of my seminars? 

Sure enough that evening a little car pulls up and Kolten drops off the bag. I was so impressed I emailed his boss the next day to let him know he was lucky to have such a solid citizen representing his company. Now, I’ve just raved to you and over 35,000 other readers about the good service at Timber Ridge Firewood. Ironically, all that positive goodwill and free advertising happened as a result of a mistake.

Sooner or later in every organization there will be foul-ups and oversights. The mistake itself is not usually what determines whether we keep the customer. It’s what we say and do about the mistake that matters. When handled properly, mistakes can actually strengthen customer loyalty and build your brand. 

As you make plans for keeping your employees engaged in 2023, could it be time for a refresher on enhancing communications with your internal and external customers? Let me know if I can assist. We’ll schedule a short zoom chat about your team’s unique needs. Then if it looks like a possible fit, I’ll follow-up with something in writing for you to consider. Let’s move your team past the pandemic blues. Finally, in 2023 let’s do this!

7 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers

7 Worst things to say to angry customer by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker, Customer Service TrainerYou’ve probably noticed that angry customers don’t always listen to reason. That’s why even when we mean well, a simple misplaced word can make an unhappy customer fly off the handle. Check out my video where I share 7 of the worst things to say to angry customers, along with what to say instead to regain trust.

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3 Biggest Buying Trends of 2023

Buying trends of 2023 to grow your business by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker, Customer Service TrainerAs you make plans for growing your business in 2023, keep in mind customers are changing their buying behaviors in 3 significant ways:

  • how they interact with companies
  • what impresses them enough to buy
  • how they react to foul-ups

For tips on how to adapt and capitalize on these trends, check out my video. Hope its helpful.

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Quick way to Win an Argument

At a certain stage in life – hopefully sooner rather than later – most of us have learned when dealing with angry customers, it pays to bite our tongue. In other words, we don’t waste time arguing with customers or rationalizing poor service. If we’ve made a mistake, we quickly admit to the error, apologize, and make amends. There’s no ‘winning’ an argument with a customer. We might win the argument but lose the customer. It would be a modern day Pyrrhic victory.

Question for you to ponder… do you use this same life lesson in your personal relationships? I admit that at times over 23 years of marriage to Lydia, I have debated when I should have shut up. Sometimes our ego makes us so self-righteous that we are determined to have the last word.

Ever notice that getting in the last word usually makes the conflict worse? Contrast that to if the other person says something less than complimentary, when we resist the urge to strike back, and instead bite our tongue. Often the other person sees our restraint and backs off as well.

I believe contemporary ‘wisdom’ about the value of sharing our thoughts and emotions is overrated – with customers, and with loved ones. Yes, there are times and places to have serious discussions about serious issues. But as I’ve pointed out before with my trusted advisor communication tips, for most of life’s little frustrations, often holding our piece, means holding on to peace. What if we let others have the last word?

Ask this before training your team

Ever had workplace training that was boring, irrelevant, or forgettable?  If so, next time you or someone in your organization is considering training for your team, ask these questions first.

Determining your customer’s budge – DON’T ask this

When helping customers make buying decisions, we of course need to come up with options that are going to fit their budget. The problem is we can sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot, depending on how we ask…

Q. “How much do you want to spend?”
A. Nothing. I don’t want to spend any money. I want to get this as cheap as possible.

Q. “What’s your budget?”
A. None of your business. Just tell me your prices and I’ll decide if you’re in the ballpark.

Note - customers likely won’t say these out loud. This is their inside voice.

Having delivered trusted advisor customer service and sales training programs for over 30 years, I’ve often learned as much from clients as they’ve learned from me. As a way of passing it forward, here are two alternative phrases that I’ve learned from my clients when asking about budgets. Fyi, these have been field tested with even skeptical, reluctant customers:

“What price range are you comfortable with?”
“Is there a budget I should be aware of?”

Either of these phrases is more apt to get you the numbers you’ll need without causing offence. And they avoid encouraging customers to lowball their estimate. Not bad results for adjusting a few words.

Converting onetime buyers into lifelong customers

Congratulations – you just made a sale! That’s the good news. The bad news is a onetime sale is no guarantee that the customer will return. Nor will they necessarily refer you. Fortunately, as I share in this video, there are 4 simple, low-cost ways you and your team members can convert onetime buyers into lifelong customers. Plus, these same tips will help generate more referrals and positive reviews.

What your customers are REALLY Saying

Imagine a survey reveals that 96% of your customers are satisfied with your service. This is where I often see managers assuming that the company is doing great. They jump to the conclusion that with a 96% satisfaction rating they’re getting an A+ score from customers. Actually, the survey only showed that a lot of customers consider the service to be adequate. Customers are not saying that they were impressed or delighted or even pleased-merely that they were satisfied. Imagine your sweetheart talking to a close friend and describing you as being adequate. You’d probably see that as a reason for concern! It certainly isn’t a reason to think you’re getting an A+ performance rating. I wonder… what does your customer feedback really say?


Register today for our 30 – second Trusted Advisor tips and receive as a bonus 15 Phrases that Pay for dealing with stressed and rushed customers.