Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Ely, a Law Expert on JustAnswer since 2007. Ely shares best practices for delivering bad news. This post is part of the Experts Helping Experts program where Experts teach fellow Experts new skills, share expertise, and discuss hot topics. To learn more, click here.
Customers who ask questions on JustAnswer often do so in desperate situations where they have few good options available to them. In some cases, we are able to give customers good news and make their day. But when we have to deliver bad news, the burden falls on us. In the Law category, I deliver bad news more often than I'd like. Sometimes, it may not even be bad news but merely not the news the customers were hoping for.
Delivering bad news is not something Experts like to do. It can be emotionally challenging and customers can take out their frustrations on us through negative ratings. Unfortunately, this is common but there are techniques you can apply to better deliver bad news and possibly, turn around negative ratings.
Show empathy and remain professional. To minimize the chances of a negative rating, remember to exercise good customer service and that starts with empathy. Put yourself in the customer's shoes. I generally like to start the premise of a response with "I am so sorry to hear about this." Many customers appreciate the fact that you care, even if they may be agitated by the situation they're in. It is also important to be genuine and tactful in your empathy.
Don't sugarcoat it. Some Experts try to avoid delivering bad news by sugarcoating or exaggerating their responses. This is a BIG no-no. You are not doing customers any favors while discrediting yourself at the same time. If you feel uncomfortable responding to a question and giving what you believe would be bad news, then perhaps it is best to opt out.
A bit of empathy, kindness and patience will often go a long way when dealing with customers.
Got your own tips for how to deliver bad news? Share them below!