You won’t always have good news for customers. Prices will go up, service inclusions will change, programs will end. It’s a fact of business life.
So when you have to share ‘bad’ news, you need to consider how you’ll do it. Both your copywriting skills, and knowledge of your customer, need to come into play. What is important to your customers? What benefits are you STILL offering? Why is the change being made?
A great example of the right way to deliver bad news is this email message I recently received from bank ING Direct. It was advising me a promotion they’d been running for several years was coming to an end. I’d never taken advantage of this program, so it would have escaped my attention, except for the fact that I thought this was a clever delivery.
It starts by reminding customers of the value of the promotion they’ve delivered for two years. It then points out some other genuine benefits of banking with them that would have to go if the program continued. It gives customers advance notice the promotion coming to an end. It doesn’t talk down to the customer. It makes this bank appear transparent. It’s succinct but clear.
It’s a great little communication piece. And it would have taken quite a lot of work and consideration, despite its brevity. It’s a great reminder of the value of well chosen words – and that there is a right way to deliver bad news.
PS. I should also note ‘bad news’ doesn’t mean ‘mistake’. If there’s been a mistake, it’s best to apologise, quickly and painlessly. Customers will respect you for it and move on. As in life, in business when you try and cover up a mistake, or deny it, that when the problems usually start!