Did I Provide Good Customer Service?

Dear Consumerist,

I’m an avid reader of your site and I’m also a partner in a new company that sells DVDs and movie downloads online. I’m in charge of customer service and want to make sure I’m getting things right since this is my first foray in retail sales.

Recently a customer ordered 2 Christmas themed DVDs that turned out to be out of stock…

…(they ordered on the 12th, emailed on the 18th to ask about the order, and I heard from our DVD distributor a few hours later that it was out of stock). I sent her an email apologizing, refunded her credit card, and sent a $20 gift card to use for future downloads or DVDs.

Is there anything else I should have done here? Was the gift card too much, too little, or about right? I’m feeling like I might have messed up someone’s Christmas and I was hoping for some objective advice on how to handle situations like this as a good company should.

-Kevin H.

Rest easy Kevin, you provided excellent customer service. Making up to your customer when things go wrong takes three steps:

1. Address the issue directly, resolving if possible.
2. Apologize.
3. Offer something extra as a reconciliatory gesture.

You successfully completed all three steps. I would definitely say your gift card offer was very generous, but since it could have put a crimp in someone’s Christmas, maybe not too generous, especially if you just converted a one-time customer into a long-term customer. The funny thing about shoppers and how they feel about companies is that they will feel better about a company that messed up and made things right than a company that did everything right all along. The one thing though is that you should change your system so that it doesn’t take orders for out-of-stock items. And as some commenters point out, charging a customer’s credit card before the item ships could be a violation of the merchant agreement with the credit card processor. Good luck in your new role.

(Photo: Getty)

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