Delivering bad news is one of the least fun aspects of working as a call center agent.
Yet, this is a regular part of the job as there are moments every day when things might fall short of expectations and we’ll need to communicate information that is less than exciting.
How can you break bad news without causing further stress and disappointment?
As businesses scurry to improve customer experience post-pandemic, these five tips will help call center agents get better at softening bad news for their esteemed customers;
1. Acknowledge their frustrations.
The customer is highly likely to show pour their frustrations and disappointment during the moment, depending on the severity of the issue at stake. The first thing you have to do is own your part of the mistake and allow the clients to convey their frustrations.
Agents have to acknowledge the customer’s frustrations and make their feelings validated. This will pave the way to make the customer open to possible solutions or acceptance of the situation.
2. Be the first to break the news, if possible.
Being early, being upfront, and being authentic will also go a long way to mitigate additional issues that may arise from the situation. So, when you can, it helps when customers get to hear details from you, rather than from an external source.
And as Deborah Farone says in this piece on Forbes, it’s always better to communicate what you can, even if you’re yet to sort out all the details.
3. Demonstrate empathy and show you’ve been listening.
The customer has to feel like they’re being listened to.
So, the onus is on the agent to make them feel like their feelings are well understood. And this is where authentic and genuine empathy comes in. Simple sentences such as “I get why you’re feeling this way” or “I understand your disappointment” can go a long way in de-escalating tension in difficult situations. Agents should imagine themselves in the customer’s situation so they can handle the situation better by being real and authentic.
4. Stick to the facts while being considerate.
Your attempt to downplay a piece of bad news might exacerbate an already pleasant situation.
Without beating around the bush or leaving out important facts, go straight to your point in a simple and considerate manner. Give your customers enough room to ask questions and make clarifications. While it’s not bad to give reassurances, do try to be as succinct and honest as possible.
5. Offer a genuine apology and possible solutions.
No one wishes to sour the experience for their clients, but stuff happens and what you can do is navigate the situation to a logical conclusion. If the matter at stake is your fault, do apologize for it and own up to your responsibility in making things right.
Most customers would be ready and willing to work out an issue with you if you can demonstrate genuine empathy and responsibility. This means saying sorry when you’re at fault, and letting them know what you’re doing or going to do to fix the situation.
Too many times, agents just jump on the phone and relay whatever news it is they have, without having a plan to handle the situation. This is no doubt the easiest way to further piss off your already clients. This can result in longer calling handling times and negative customer experiences. Going forward, you have to be intentional about making positivity out of negative situations, as is possible on most occasions. Fortunately, the tips above will be more than enough to help you steer your conversations the right way.
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If you’re keen on boosting your customer experience with reliable support services, please, contact us today. We’ll be more than happy to help.