insi-ded: Customer horror stories

4 Min Read

Customer horror stories: There’s no way back

Hello October! And welcome to our inSi-DED (see what we did there?) series. As the temperature drops and the evenings get darker, ‘tis the season for cautionary customer tales.

As Customer Success and Community professionals, we know it’s not all roses and rainbows. But we don’t talk about these things enough – at least not openly. So that’s why this month, with Halloween around the corner, we’re sharing customer “horror” stories. Why? To learn from them, find comfort, and keep it real. If you have your own story to share, you can do so here. (You can be completely anonymous.)

We’re kicking off this series with a hair-raising tale from Condeco’s Erika Villarreal. Be warned.

Here’s a horror story of one time I failed to follow basic Customer Success practices and almost lost a customer.

People often talk about their successes but not so much about how they’ve failed. So this is a story of a time I failed.

I had been working on the implementation of one of my customers back at SmartMoving Software. We were still setting up the platform and there was an API integration that allowed customers to import leads of people who were interested in booking a move.

They had been accumulating leads for over a month, without following up on them, because we were just getting started. So their Sales pipeline was inflated with tons of different leads that were no longer useful to them.

We were getting ready to kick off the project and the customer reached out to me via email asking me to delete all leads prior to that same day. They wanted all leads to be removed so their conversion rates reflected reality. 

They had already been booking moves and the pipeline did not only include leads but potential customers who they had already reached out to and scheduled for the month.

When he asked to delete the leads, I asked to confirm which ones he wanted to delete. We had different lead statuses and I did not ask to specify the type of leads he wanted to delete.

So I just asked: “Can you confirm you want to delete all leads”, he said yes. And that’s what I did.

I submitted a ticket to our Support team to have all the leads “HARD DELETED” from their application. The product team reached out and asked: “Are you sure this is what they want, to delete ALL LEADS no matter the status? Because once that is done, there’s no way back”. 

Instead of going back to the customer and asking once again to confirm which leads they wanted to delete. I replied to the product team: “Yes, I’m sure.” He said, “Ok, all leads deleted”.

So the team ran a process to delete all leads from the application. And the next day, the customer reached out to me asking what had happened to all of their customers they had scheduled for a move. So I said, well… you asked me to delete all leads. Then I panicked. I started to sweat, and I think I almost cried.

I had deleted EVERYTHING from their application. Scheduled moves, all customers, all data from the follow-ups. Everything.

I immediately reached out to our Product team hoping for the best. I still remember how the team had said: “There’s no way back” and I was seriously dying inside. 

Luckily for me and for the customer, the team was able to recover most of the customer’s data back to the way it was before completing this process. I went back to the customer and I said it was 100% my fault. I was responsible for everything that had happened. 

It took my product team one whole day to recover my customer’s information. But we were able to do it. I seriously don’t know what would have happened if we weren’t able to recover the data. I would have lost a customer, no doubt about it.

I think my customer really valued the way I handled the situation. I acted fast. Did whatever I had to do to fix the problem (even if I created the problem myself). They were not mad, as they understood it was a miscommunication.

But I learned from that. If there is any doubt about what a customer is requesting,  ALWAYS ALWAYS confirm their needs before taking action.

I also learned that accountability plays a huge part in building relationships. I messed up, but I did not blame this on anyone else. It was on me and I said I was sorry and that this would never ever happen again.

Sometimes, we will mess up, and we will fail. But the important part of failure is learning from it to become a better CSM.