How to inform customer item is out of stock

Giving Bad News To A Customer

Ways Of Informing A Customer An Item Is Out of Stock

It’s normal for customers to be disappointed when they are looking for an item, and find out that it’s not in stock. Of course, it’s the staff on the firing line that get targeted for their anger and disappointment.

How To Tell The Customer

How you inform the customer will influence their reactions. Some ways of giving bad news tend to make customers more angry, and encourage “drama”. Other ways work better.

You can’t control customer reactions but you can phrase things so it’s more likely you won’t be targeted.

There are two main principles to understand:

  • If you come across as concerned and helpful, you will reduce customer anger, since the worst thing you can do is appear to not care.
  • You can use positive, problem-solving language that focuses not on what you cannot do, but what you CAN do for the customer.



It’s out of stock and I have no idea when we will have it.


I know you’ll be disappointed, but that item is out of stock right now. If you like, I can suggest a similar item we do have, or take your information and let you know when it comes in. Would that work?

Author: Robert Bacal

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