As a customer support agent, you know that bad news is hard to convey to a customer. Whether you can’t fulfill an order or your team isn’t releasing a feature or product the customer was hoping for, disappointing customers can be a difficult task. Responding in a genuine way can go a long way to repair bonds, build trust, and strengthen customer relationships. In this article, we’ll cover 5 important steps to communicating tough news to customers without breaking their confidence in your company.


Learn the Customer’s Experience

Take the time to truly understand the customer’s experience and take note of their insights. Review their prior interactions with your company (using your team’s ticketing platform, CRM, marketing, etc.) and listen to them when they share the journey it took to connect with you or while using your product. This fundamental step lays the groundwork for future interactions. Additionally, actively listening to the customer not only makes them feel valued, but it also fosters a stronger connection.

Be Empathetic

Being able to empathize with customers is one of the most valuable skills a customer support agent can develop. Being able to understand a customer’s emotional state equips agents in responding appropriately. When an agent can correctly assess a customer’s feelings, they can correctly de-escalate or provide education when needed.

Positively Set Expectations

Using positive language as much as possible, agents can set expectations. Whether this is through a workaround, a realistic timeframe for when something will be resolved, or even communicating that something won’t take place at all. As much as possible, the agent should take personal responsibility to either resolve the issue or follow the issue to ensure it is resolved. Even when it’s beyond the scope of their job, customer support managers can empower agents to own issues and provide personalized follow up with the customer.

Give a Token of Goodwill

How far can a small gift go? Tremendously far for a tired and frustrated customer. Providing small rewards to the customer to thank them for sticking through the issue or for taking the time to explain their experience is immensely beneficial. Your thoughtful gift can be a freebie, a small discount on a future purchase, a small gift card, a handwritten note, or even a thoughtful, personalized email follow up from a support team manager or user experience team member. Additionally, ensure you have a space to note details about the customer for follow up later. The best gift you can give a customer in future conversations is the gift of not having to repeat themselves.

Share Widely

Don’t let the experience with the customer go to waste. The last portion of the journey is to share their insights widely within your team. Customer support teams should regularly meet with other departments, such as marketing, product, and software development teams, to share customer feedback and direct quotes. Having an accurate understanding of customers helps teams that aren’t customer-facing make customer-centered decisions.

Using a tool like Fanatically Zen helps SugarCRM users and Zendesk agents communicate better and stay informed on customer interactions. Schedule a Fanatically Zen demo to learn how this integration can help your team, or email us any time at Ready to test it out right away? Start your free Fanatically Zen trial on SugarOutfitters at any time.

Contributed by: Heidi Washington, Director of Customer Support at Fanatical Labs