Be careful when explaining a hiccup with customers

No doubt things go wrong in business. For example, I’ve been accidentally double charged when making a purchase at a store. Usually it’s not a problem to get this corrected, it’s as simple as refunding the extra charge.

However, when something goes wrong, be very careful if you feel the need to explain what happened, or to explain how things will be fixed. It may seem like the customer would like to know what happened, and they may indeed like to know, but it’s walking a fine line before it turns into justification of what happened or will happen, only angering your customer. Especially when something egregious occurs.

A few months ago I received an odd notice from my bank about a payment to Verizon for an amount over double our monthly cell phone bill. Fast forward more than two months later and the problem is finally resolved. It took me calling on 6 different occasions and several hours of my time to uncover we’d been over charged to the tune of more than $500 over the past several months. Every time someone on the other end of the line said they would follow up once they did some more research, inevitably, they dropped the ball.

Fortunately, I was able to reach someone to finally refund the money. However, when I asked what they were going to do to make things right, not just get my money back, a manager indignantly replied that he had taken the time to bypass the normal process to refund my money which would have involved a form and approval process. In other words, he wanted me to be grateful that they had not put me through even greater hell to get my money refunded.

I’m sure, from his perspective it seemed like a nice gesture. But I couldn’t care less what bureaucracy they have internally, that’s not a favor to me.