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She Lied to Me: A Great Customer Service Experience Turns Ugly

Customer Service TipCompany Policies

There’s no lying in customer service!

Here is a short version of the story. On a recent trip I met a number of my fellow professional speakers for dinner at the hotel we were staying at. Sometime during the dinner someone asked if all of us brought down the five dollar discount coupons that were in our registration packet. Two of us, myself included, had not. When it came time to pay our bill we asked the server if we could pay the bill, get the discount, and we promised to bring the coupons back once we all got up from the table. I jokingly said I would provide collateral, if necessary. She laughed and said it wasn’t necessary.

Several minutes later one of the restaurant managers came over and said that unfortunately she needed the coupons when we paid. She said there was a code she had to enter for us to receive the discount. It was only five dollars, so I thought to let it go. I didn’t want to leave my friends for the ten minutes it would take to go back to my room and come back down. No big deal.

Well, it was “no big deal” until I noticed that the coupons didn’t have a code on them.  They were just pieces of paper that had the name of the restaurant with the five dollar offer for hotel guests. The manager had lied.

When the server came back, I asked to speak to the manager and I told her why. Our server was shocked and obviously very uncomfortable. I assured her that she was awesome and I’d recommend her for a promotion. She laughed and went to get the manager.

A short time later a different manager came back. She listened to my story and was also shocked. She apologized profusely and insisted on taking care of us and buying us a drink. She was truly upset.

The issue wasn’t about the five dollars. It wasn’t about the coupon. It was about a lie. The manager lied to me. No matter how perfect everything was up until that point, the experience ended in a crash.

Sometimes a company may have a policy or procedure I don’t agree with. I can live with that. But, don’t lie about it. A lie is a lie, and that is unacceptable for anyone or any company. It instantly destroys confidence and trust. One person’s lie can reflect on all of the employees. Customers will walk away and say, “I don’t want to do business with them. They lie to their customers.” It wasn’t that they lied. It was a he or a she that lied. It was just one person, and maybe that’s the only person in the entire company that ever lied. But at that moment, that one person represented all of the other employees.

Back to what I stated at the beginning: There’s no lying in customer service!

Happy New Year! In case you missed last week’s blog, I shared 15 customer service tips for the new year. Click here to read them and may your year be…Amazing!

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)

  1. I like it and I agree. This brings back a sad memory of when I had this great relationship with a military account and the company asked that a present a response that was a outright lie. That one lie destroyed a relationship that I had work hard to build and sustain for 5 years. It only took a few seconds to destroy my credibility. The message here is that I had a choice, what we loss exceeded what we gained.

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