Simple Guidance for Building Rapport with Customers When You Have to Give Them Bad News


When you can’t tell your customer exactly what they want to hear, maintaining a sense of rapport can be challenging. But it’s possible to give your customer lousy news with empathy and a positive slant.

When you have to give a customer bad news, do it using the “Feel, Felt, Found Method.” This approach helps you to foster a sense of connection with customers, even when you can’t give them exactly what they want.

The basic model for Feel, Felt, Found is:


Relay that you understand how the customer feels. “I can understand why you feel that way.”


Show the customer they aren’t alone. “I had another customer who had a similar situation and felt the same way.”


Tell the customer what you’ve found to work. “We found that this worked best.”

Let me show you how this looks in action.

I’m currently working with a client that sells food products. A question they get from customers is, “What ingredients are in this yogurt?”
When a customer asks for ingredients, it’s usually because they have a food allergy.

The problem is, my client can’t give the complete ingredient list because that’s giving away their secret sauce. But all of their products do list ingredients known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

So, I helped my client respond to these customers using Feel, Felt, Found like this:

“I understand how you feel. My daughter has a walnut allergy, and like you, I have to know what’s in the food she eats.”

“We’ve had other customers who felt just as you do.”

“Here’s what we found helped them. While the other customers couldn’t get the full ingredient list, they could spot the specific ingredients that are known to trigger allergies, because all of our labels list every ingredient that has a known allergic reaction.”

So, the purpose of “Feel, Felt, Found” here is to convey empathy and to offer a useful solution for delivering less than ideal news to a customer.

I discuss building rapport with customers in everyday interactions and with challenging situations in my LinkedIn Learning course, “Building Rapport with Customers.”

In this course, I’ll show you how to pace customers, meaning, you’ll meet customers where they are emotionally, you’ll learn how yielding to customers helps the conversation flow, you’ll see how talking in complete sentences makes you sound friendlier, plus you’ll know how you can maintain rapport even when you have to give bad news.

Join me in this LinkedIn Learning course and learn how to deliver better customer interactions by creating rapport.