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A software bug and a customer-focused solution

Last week we discovered and corrected some calculation errors in our software that resulted in us over-billing a handful of customers an average of 50¢. This isn’t a post about the details of that error, but rather how we handled this from a customer service standpoint.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a billing mistake before. Some companies have addressed these kinds of mistakes in a fashion that we’ve become accustomed to:

  • A credited line item on an invoice,
  • a broadcast email alert to the affected customer base,
  • or even a ‘wait for the customer to call and then tell them’ approach.

We felt the right thing to do was to pick up the phone and call each customer affected BEFORE they noticed the problem, explain what happened, tell them how and when we’ll fix the error and that we’re sorry this happened in the first place.

How did it go?

The customer response from our phone calls was pretty incredible. Time and again, each conversation turned into a wonderful conversation with our customers. They were “surprised and delighted” that we took the time to call them and apologize.

Although this specific response may not scale in the same way when we reach thousands of customers, what we learned is that regardless of the method, as long as we work to foster a culture that focuses on the customer regardless of circumstance, we’ll be equipped to respond in a ‘surprising and delightful’ way regardless of the situation.

When I’m asked how Ting is different, this is one of the stories I’ll share. Yes, it does feel a bit odd ‘tooting our own horn’ after recovering from a mistake we created, but I think it serves as a real-world example about who we are and our approach to dealing with our mistakes.