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Have you done a script for delivering bad news to a customer? I work retail and never know what to tell people when we don’t have their size or can’t return a product.

Hey there! Oh man, did it take me a long time to learn how to tell people bad news.

First thing that I learned was you gotta take control of the situation. I’m not saying be aggressive (don’t be aggressive), but if you’re passive, then it’s possible the customer will take their frustration out on you.

I think the best way to tell someone bad news in retail is to politely tell them the bad news, and try to think of a solution/ alternative way to help them. For example:

  • I’m sorry to say, but unfortunately we don’t have (insert item) in the size you’re looking for. We’re getting a new shipment in (insert amount) of days, so you can come back then. Sorry about the inconvenience.

Or keep it simple and say:

  • Unfortunately the size your looking for isn’t available. Is there anything else I could help you look for instead?

For not being able to return a product, it’s be a good idea to explain the return policy to them, but they isn’t a need to elaborate unless they ask for it.

  • Unfortunately the item you’re trying to return can’t be returned because (reason/ return policy).

It’ll help if on their receipt it says it isn’t refundable! And if an exchange is possible, mention that!

Be sure that you’re body language is very open (so don’t cross your arms), as well as keeping yourself from closing up (slouching shoulders, lowering head), because you want your body language to say, “honesty” and “confidence”, which will prevent you from getting a bad response.

If you’re still struggling with it, don’t be afraid to ask other coworkers! Especially if it’s someone who’s been working there for a long time, it’s likely they’ll know how to handle the situation. So you could observe how they handle it, and apply that when it happens to you. (Note their body language, their tone of voice, the words they say, the solutions they offer, etc)

My boss always says objections are simply questions, and all you’re doing is answering a customer’s question. If they don’t like the answer, it’s not your fault, and it’s okay to ask for help.

I wish you the best of luck!

- Pina