– How to Write the Business Bad News –
How to Write the Business Bad News: Sometimes, in business, you simply cannot avoid writing a letter that has bad news. However, you can try to write the letter in such a way as to maintain a good relationship with the recipient, as well as break the bad news in the easiest way. You don’t want to burn any bridges in business, so it really is to your advantage to write an effective bad newsletter.
Objectives You Should Focus on When Writing the Letter
- Minimizing damage to the relationship: Bad news should not define the relationship.
- Showing that the decision is fair: Imagine yourself in the reader’s shoes, and try to offer the best explanation possible.
- Stating the bad news clearly and firmly:
- The opening should have a buffer to minimize any damage to the relationship. Use a positive or neutral opening to maintain goodwill.
- The body should include reasons to help the reader see it from your point of view. You want to show that you are being both reasonable. Be clear and firm about the bad news, but also be brief, positive, and low key about it.
- Closing should contain an appropriate gesture of goodwill, and perhaps a potential solution for the reader’s problem.
Other Goals to Keep in Mind
There are seven goals to keep in mind when delivering negative news, in person or in written form:
- Be clear and concise in order not to require additional clarification.
- Help the receiver understand and accept the news.
- Maintain trust and respect for the business or organization and for the receiver.
- Avoid legal liability or erroneous admission of guilt or culpability.
- Maintain the relationship, even if a formal association is being terminated.
- Reduce the anxiety associated with negative news to increase comprehension.
- Achieve the designated business outcome.
How to Write the Bad News
When writing a bad-news letter, you need to focus on maintaining the best possible relationship with the client, showing that the decision was fair, and stating the bad news clearly and succinctly.
Start Out With a Thank You
Open the letter thanking the client for their business, before announcing the bad news and offering any workable solutions.
The goal of this section is to let the client know you value their patronage and would like to maintain your positive relationship.
“We know you have many options when it comes to banking, and we appreciate that you have chosen to work with Fake Financial for the last six years.”
Segue Into the Bad News Message
You don’t want to sugarcoat the bad news, use euphemisms that make it difficult to understand what happened or explain more than is necessary.
Also, do not apologize excessively. Instead, succinctly explain what happened, how it affected the client, and apologize. Remember that your client’s time is valuable and they only want to know what happened and why.
“Last night, we uncovered an error that affected your account and may have prevented your online transactions from the last three months from accurately being entered into our system. As a result, you may have noticed incorrect fees or balances on your account.”
Try to Offer a Solution
When things go wrong, it’s important to offer something positive to the client to minimize the blow. Don’t lie or exaggerate something in an insincere way to try to make things better–your positive doesn’t have to be major.
For example, if the client was denied credit, you wouldn’t want to infer that a mistake may have occurred or try to console the client that their credit is good, just not what your company was looking for.
“While we regret that your application was denied, you are welcome to reapply in a few months, at which point your credit situation may improve. In the meantime, we have a wide array of financial services that may benefit you.”
Where Appropriate, Make a Referral
If you have to discontinue your relationship, you can refer the client to a reputable competitor or notify them that you may take them on again at a later time.
“While I can regrettably no longer serve as your legal counsel, my respected colleague, John Beech would be more than happy to take on your case. You can contact him to schedule a free consultation by calling 888-555-4848.”
When It’s Your Fault
If the bad news was the result of a problem within your company, tell the client how the problem is being rectified, even if that just means stating that the employee responsible will be disciplined or that you have since updated your software.
“We regret that your account was momentarily closed because of an employee error. Your account has since been reopened, and we have refunded all fees associated with the closure. We are also implementing a system that will make account closures more difficult, to prevent accounts from being accidentally closed in the future.”
Read Also: How to Write a Business Letter.
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