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Tempering Expectations When Things Go Wrong

Nearly everybody has had the misfortune of a service industry experience that left something to be desired. This could range from a service delivery that did not meet the expectations of the customer, or on the flip side, it could be a customer abusing resources beyond what they are paying for.

These kind of experiences are bound to happen to everyone sooner or later. However, the way that the provider or customer deals with the situation can play a big factor in whether or not the issue can be resolved to each parties mutual satisfaction.

Recently I experienced an interruption in service from my internet service provider. My immediate reaction was to fly off the handle and make outrageous demands such as a free month of service. As I waited on hold for an hour, I had a lot of time to reflect. Clearly, I wasn't the only one affected or the line wouldn't have been so busy. The customer service agent on the other end of the phone had probably already had more than her fair share of obnoxious customers blaming her for something she had no control over.

I decided to take a realistic approach to the problem. When the agent finally answered my call, I greeted her cordially and mentioned she must have been having a busy night. She chuckled and agreed, my entire city was suffering from the same technical issue and she had dozens of conversations with folks ahead of me in the queue.

That friendly first interaction set the stage for her to actually want to help solve the problem rather than get defensive. She took the time to run some tests from my end and involve an engineer to look at the test results to determine the required fix.

At the of the support call, the service was still out for a period of time, so I decided to craft a reasonable request for compensation, rather than an out of this world demand that would likely be outright refused.

Below is my letter to the ISP. The names of the company and employee have been obscured, as this post is not intended to be an endorsement or critique of the company involved in this interaction.


The ISP replied in due course with an apologetic email, giving me exactly what I asked for.


I hope that this experience can help to inspire some patience, allowing you to temper your expectations when things go wrong during this busy season.

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