Why Executives Should Love Bad News

Think of bad news and your stomach probably starts to tie up in knots. Nobody likes bad news. But you can learn to love it.

Whether it’s a concern expressed by an employee or a complaint from a customer, bad news is vital to your business success.

Kudos and compliments are great. They feel good, keep us motivated, and tell us when we’ve hit the mark. We celebrate with high fives, pats on the back and chest bumps. When the party is over, have you learned anything that can help you build a better business?

On the other hand, bad news may feel bad, but what it teaches us is oh-so-good.

Bad news means someone cares enough to tell you what’s wrong. And if you don’t know you have a problem, how can you fix it? Shedding daylight on problems is the only way to fix them.

I know, it can be hard to resist the temptation to squash bad news. For many of us, the first instinct is to deny it or hide from the truth.

We shoot the messenger, claiming they don’t know what they’re talking about, they are using the product wrong, they’re uninformed. That may be so, and if it is, who’s to blame?

When customers have a bad experience, it’s generally not their fault. If they didn’t understand the product or couldn’t figure out the directions, then you have an issue with usability that ought to be addressed.

If they complain your price is too high, you haven’t demonstrated enough value.

If they waited ages to be helped, your may have a training issue, a staffing problem or an employee with the wrong attitude.

Just about any complaint can be a source of edification. Take a bunch of complaints and start looking for patterns, and you’ll quickly see weaknesses that can usually be overcome with relatively minor changes to your operations.

Social media makes it even easier for customers to voice their opinions, and lots of businesses are pretending not to hear. Don’t be one of them. Pay attention to what’s being said online and do something about it.

I’ve heard of companies that delete poor online reviews because they don’t want people to read about the negatives. But guess what? That will only create more ill will.

For every company that believes you shouldn’t be on social media because people might say something bad, here’s a news flash: They’re talking about you, whether you listen or not. Wouldn’t you rather be part of that conversation?

Just like people, no company is perfect. Customers don’t expect you to be flawless, but they do appreciate a good recovery when things go wrong.

Recovering well from failure is an art. Doing so will ultimately boost loyalty because it shows:

  1. You’re real.
  2. You care about customers.
  3. You’re willing to take action to make things right.

Learn to embrace the bad news when it comes. Make it a habit to listen, act and advance your business. When you see the benefits as your business grows, you’ll learn to love bad news.

  1. Oh so true… I just read something similar on Women’s Advantage. Ask your customers what is not working for them. Yikes! But so enlightening. Thanks for sharing.

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