How to Tell Customers What They Don’t Want to Hear In a Chat

Text.jpgI was chatting with a company about a price drop. I’d bought something for my Dad and had it shipped directly to his home. Two days after the shipment arrived, I saw on the company’s website that the price had dropped by $20. So I reached out over chat, and this is what I was told:

“We are constantly looking for the best prices to offer our customers, and that sometimes means a lower price is featured. We do not price match and cannot issue you a refund.”

When I questioned this practice, he wrote:

“Let me see if I can write this in a way that you understand.”

I saw that reply as condescending. Later in the chat, the employee said:

“You can return the item and just reorder it at the new price. But we cannot credit you the difference.”

Now, because this was a gift for my father, I wasn’t willing to drive to his house, take the gift back, package and ship it, re-order, and then send it back to my dad.

So, I didn’t get a refund, and I also walked away from the chat with a very negative impression of this company.

There will be times when you just can’t tell your customer what they want to hear. You can do it better than this company by focusing on two things:

1. Putting a positive slant on the bad news
2. Conveying empathy

When you have to deliver bad news over chat, the right wording can stop a back and forth thread, minimize escalation, and it can leave the customer with a better impression.

Keep these 2 points in mind, when you have to give bad news:

1. Put a Positive Slant On the Bad News

The person I chatted with could have said the same thing, just re-wording it, like this:

“I realize it’s frustrating to see a price drop right after you bought something from us. This happens because we’re always aggressively searching to partner with companies that offer the best price for our customers. This can mean a price drops after you purchase an item.”

And then, in the very next message, he could have said,

“If you’d like to get the lower price, what you can do is return the item to us and then order it at the lower price. I realize the return may be a hassle, but that will let you save $20.”

This re-worded message focuses on the positive and makes the company look better, while at the same time, it puts the responsibility for getting the credit on the customer.

Always give bad news over chat in the most positive way possible.

2. Give The Bad News with Empathy

It usually won’t go well for you, even if you put a positive slant on the bad news if you don’t use empathy. Show customers your concern with a statement like,

“I know it’s frustrating to see a price drop,” or “I know you’re anxious to see your credit.”

The best approach is going to be for you to express empathy before giving the bad news.

The right wording with a focus on empathy, and a positive slant can help you keep the conversation moving forward, and it can minimize escalations.

These tips on giving bad news to a customer in a chat are from my customer service online training course, How to Be a Great Chat Agent. Learn more about this training.