Stick To Your Guns And You May Shoot Yourself In The Foot

This is my "I was wrong, you were right" face.

This is my “I was wrong, you were right” face.

Let me give you a very real scenario and while you’re reading this, you can refer to the included image of me with a sheepish grin on my face.

If you’re like me, you believe your systems are infallible and any customer claiming otherwise is obviously wrong.  How many times have you uttered some iteration of “I am right and you’re wrong.”  These are so often the famous last words of customer service representatives — including yours truly on many occasions.

In a recent scenario, a customer claimed he had not received a refund.  I confirmed in our system that we had in fact refunded him.  A month or so passed by and he left us a (not so) nice note on our Facebook page indicating we still had not refunded him.  I again confirmed that I had correctly refunded him.  Again, he confirmed that he had not been refunded.  The customer must be wrong, right?

In a symbolic gesture similar to throwing my hands up in the air, I decided to have someone check our payment gateway to make sure the refund was successful.  Guess what?  It wasn’t!  I pulled the string a little further and found out that we had a full-fledged bug in our system.

Regardless of whose fault it was, I got to go back to the customer, tail between my legs, and say “I was wrong, you were right.”  As you can image, the customer responded saying, “Thank you so much, Jeremy.  People make mistakes all the time.  I’ll retract my Facebook comment and tell all of my friends that I was just kidding about all the things I said about your company.”  Actually that’s not how it went.  The customer told me where I could send his money and he sure as heck won’t be returning to our company again any time soon.

The moral of this story is simple.  In customer service and in life, if you stick to your guns, you might very well shoot yourself in the foot.  The customer very well could have been wrong, as they often are, but I sure wish I hadn’t waited so long to get a second opinion.  I leave you with these great words:

The customer isn’t always right, but they are always the customer. ~Shep Hyken

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  • Thank you for having the courage to post this, Jeremy. I think we’ve all been in this type of situation and it’s a great reminder.

    It’s also a good example of an iceberg. One of my favorite customer service concepts — an apparently small problem can really be a big one, but you’ll never know it until you go looking like you did.

    • I love that concept Jeff. I immediately just thought of the quote from Tommy Boy:

      “What the American public doesn’t know is what makes them the American public.”

      Iceburg issues are so much fun, especially when you know there are probably more to be found. Awesome customer service definitely finds and fixes as opposed to turning a blind eye.

  • Hah oh this was a fun one, wasn’t it? I agree with Jeff–thanks for having the courage to share this with everyone. It’s never fun to tell a customer this but dang it, knowing that we did get to the bottom of the issue and admitted the mistake is pretty great once you get over the embarrassment.

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