One of the hardest parts about my job is giving customers bad news. When a request for a credit comes back denied or a channel disappears, you have to remember to remain tactful when dealing with these people. I have come to find that it’s not what you say that’s the problem; it’s how you say it. When I first started working at the call centre I was a complete pushover and would apply credits or give in to anyone who raised their voice to me. Sometimes you have to say no though, and there really isn’t anything else you can do. Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at breaking news gently to people, but what’s going through my head and coming out of my mouth are two completely different things.
“You need to learn how to pay your bill on time” will translate to “We have an automatic withdrawal program that will automatically take out your payment on the due date, that way you know your payment has been made”
“You wouldn’t have had 6 months of overcharges on your bill if you’d bothered to look at it once in a while” translates into “I’m sorry that you were overcharged, that’s why we print itemized statements for you and give you 30 days to dispute them, in order to ensure you’re never billed for services you don’t have”
And my personal favourite
“Go ahead and switch to our competitor, they’re going to shut you off when you don’t pay them as well” translates into “I apologize for the inconvenience, however, it is common practice among all utilities to interrupt service for nonpayment”
People don’t like to hear bad news, but when said in a way that shows you really do care about their situation, it makes it easier to get the bad news across. This article outlines the key factors to keep in mind when delivering bad news to people.