There are so many great things about being in the brand management group of an agency. However, the worst part of the job is delivering bad news to the client. It really doesn’t matter if the bad news is a small or big the mistake, how you approach it is the same. How you communicate the bad news not only is a reflection on you but the agency. How you communicate one piece of bad news is probably more important to the future of the relationship than communicating a client ten pieces of good news. So when the inevitable happens, here are three steps to always remember when delivering the news.
Be honest and direct. Don’t waste your client’s time. Honesty is the best policy. If you’re going to tell them bad news, just get to the point. I use to hate long excuses from my agency when getting bad news, I just wanted them to apologize for the mistake, tell me the reason for the mistake and then get on with explaining how they were going to correct what had happened.
Provide a solution. Nothing irritates clients more than when you are delivering bad news and you have no idea how to solve the problem. The client already doesn’t have control over the situation so they are looking to you to help them. Providing a solution to the problem shows confidence and ability, and can help in regaining the trust of your client. When delivering bad news, most of the conversation should be around the solution.
Acknowledge the impact on their business. When delivering the bad news, focus on your client. Put yourself in their shoes. Understanding the pressures on your client is just as important as being honest about the mistake. Showing empathy shows your client that you are putting him/her first and helps frame up the conversation.
This is all common sense. But, when you’re the messenger, delivering bad news is never easy. It stirs up all sorts of emotions and stress. Take a deep breath and remember the basics.