Customer Service: The Art of Being Able to Admit Your Mistakes

We’ve all heard “the customer is always right” and working in customer service, you know that’s not true. However, your businesses success depends on your customers and the customer service provided. There are customers out there who have made honest mistakes and just want to make sure they aren't being taken advantage of.

I previously worked in a call center for a travel company where I saw and heard all types of customer service “techniques”.  I heard people blame the customers; give the customers attitude, tell them there’s nothing we can do etc. Yes, sometimes there is nothing you can really do, but make the delivery a little more tasteful.  I remember one woman in particular—I found her an amazing deal for a vacation for her, her husband and her 17 year old quadruplets.  She wanted a special vacation because it was their last time together before her girls were “adults”.

Apparently we had a miscommunication somewhere in our conversation and she thought our beach service was complimentary, but it was not (it would cost her a few hundred dollars during her stay). She called back during her vacation and asked a colleague of mine about the issue. He promptly said “Ma’am you’re wrong, it’s not included. There’s nothing we can do”.

I was in utter disbelief!

They hung up and I immediately called her back and apologized. I said I was so sorry if I told her beach service was included because it is not—however, I would go back, listen to our phone calls and if I did say something about beach service, I would personally pay for her beach service during her stay.  It turns out that I was correct, I never said anything about it—but you can see the clear difference in the way the situation was handled. 

This guest was just appreciative that I took the time to go back to make sure there wasn’t a communication breakdown during our conversations; I’m human, I make mistakes! She thanked me and said they were having a great vacation but she must have imagined I said that.
Even if you know the customer is incorrect about an issue, you need to take the time to handle the situation in an appropriate and respectable manner.

Have you ever had a situation like this happen to you? How was it handled and what would you have done differently?