As Halloween approaches, we couldn’t help but think about some business horror stories. Whether it’s a failed social media attempt, a botched customer service call, a zealous intern or something even worse, just remember that not all days have treats, and it’s good to be aware of the tricks!
Horror #1: Thoughtless Customer Service
It’s a well-known fact that dealing with the cable company is one of the least fun aspects of life. Just think of how many times have you had to wait on hold for hours to get absolutely no response to your simple Where did ESPN go question. Customer service is of the utmost importance to any business, yet sometimes, processes stand in the way of progress. Just take Charter Communications major fail when they told Alabama tornado victims that they’d receive a $212 fine if they didn’t find and return their cable box after a tornado ravaged their city and scattered debris for miles.
Take-Away: Treat your customers with the highest-level of respect and, in case of extraordinary circumstances, think about how you communicate company policy.
Horror #2: Intern Fail
Hiring an intern is a big deal for most businesses. It’s a cost-effective way to increase the size of your workforce while also bringing in some younger eyes for your business. However, hiring interns is just like hiring any other employee; you need to thoroughly vet them out. TechCrunch got into hot water when one of their interns was found to be accepting gifts from startups in return for writing favorable articles about them. http://venturebeat.com/2010/02/05/techcrunch-daniel-brusilovsky/
Take-Away: Unpaid interns are a great asset to businesses. Just make sure you know who you’re hiring when you start looking for interns.
Horror #3: Billing Errors
Billing can be one of the most grueling aspects of running a business. Chasing down customers for recurring monthly payments is a headache. The only real rule of billing is that you don’t bill the wrong people. This seems to be a lesson that Optus, an Australian telecommunication giant, didn’t figure out. They incorrectly billed 235,000 of their customers for a texting service that these customers never received. The cost of this refund plus interest is going to cost Optus $8.8 million.
Take-Away: Monitor your systems closely. If you make a mistake, tell everyone affected because owning up to the mistake will hopefully lessen the blow.
Horror #4: Social Media Mis-Management
Remember the big European horse meat scandal? Tesco, one of the companies involved in the fiasco, forgot to pause an auto-tweet that didn’t help their cause. http://www.businessinsider.com/worst-social-media-fails-of-the-year-so-far-2013-3
Take-Away: Social media automation can be a great thing. Just make sure you have manual oversight so you don’t put your foot in your mouth.
Horror #5: ?Check Your Work? Fail
Similar to the Australian telecommunication company that had a costly billing error, United Airlines recently dealt with a financial blow from not properly inputting pricing data into their computer system. As a result, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people were able to purchase flights for less than $10. United acknowledged the mistake and said they will honor all tickets purchased at the severely discounted price.
Take-Away: Double check every document you put out to customers especially those that include pricing. If you screw that up, you might have to pay for it.