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Balancing Customer Support: Delivering Disappointing News

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.

Here are 5 steps to providing disappointing news to customers without breaking trust, as well as some language options that agents can use while still remaining engaged and authentic.

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 both Zendesk and SugarCRM or SuiteCRM) 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.

  • It sounds like our product didn’t work as expected. Can you tell me more about what was happening leading up to the issue?
  • I want to better understand the situation to ensure I get it right and find the right solution.
  • If I understand correctly, {rephrase issue}. Does that sound about right to you?
  • Thanks for walking me through your experience. Just to make sure I got all the details, it sounds like {rephrase issue}.
Fz Disappointing News Infographic Size 1

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.

  • This sounds really frustrating. Let’s do a little digging to troubleshoot.
  • Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. I want to make sure we get it resolved.
  • If I were in your shoes, I’d feel disappointed too. Let’s work together to find a solution.
  • It sounds like this disrupted your workflow and I can see how that would be difficult.

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’s 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.

  • {New feature} is a great idea. I’ll pass it along to our team to consider for the future. While the feature isn’t available right now, you can use {workaround} in the meantime.
  • I appreciate you sharing your experience around using {our product}. This is an issue our team is working on but I don’t yet have a timeframe for resolution. I’m keeping this ticket open and will check back in with updates as I become aware. If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know.
  • I understand how important this is to you. Let me do a little testing on my end and check in with my colleagues to find a workable solution that allows you to move forward.

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.

  • I appreciate you sticking with me throughout this call. To show my appreciation, I’d love to offer you...
  • I know this news is tough to hear and likely isn’t what you were hoping for. In light of that, I’d like to offer you…
  • We’d like to go back in time to prevent this issue from happening in the first place but in place of that, we’d love to offer you…
  • We’ve really appreciated you as our customer and we know how frustrating this experience must have felt. We’d love to extend an offer of…

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 teams and product/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. Reach out to zendesk@fanaticallabs.com to learn more about how Fanatically Zen can help your team.

About Fanatical Labs

Fanatical Labs specializes in creating the tech that turns a platform into a community. For over 15 years, the team has developed and continually supported high-quality software integrations for CRM systems and popular tech platforms, such as SugarChimp, a popular integration for Mailchimp and SugarCRM, Fanatically Zen, an integration for Zendesk and SugarCRM, and most recently Glances, the no-code integration platform that securely connects multiple business apps and shows real-time data in a single view. Learn more about the team and company at fanaticallabs.com.


Media Contact:

Jessica Biondo