Its not quite a Rule of Tech Support (I’ll have to check the list to make sure) but a good rule to follow whenever you’re fixing something is “don’t make it worse.” If you can’t fix something at least try to get back to where you were when you started, it just makes life easier down the road, even if it is for the next guy that’s going to be looking at whatever it is you’re trying to fix. If its someone else’s thing you’re fixing, be up front and honest about what is happening.
The poor handling of an unfortunate situation is one common thread that I see over and over again whenever someone takes to the Internet to air a legitimate grievance, like the musician who recently had a guitar damaged by incompetent baggage handlers after he was denied the right to carry it onto the plane with him. Something unfortunate happens, the person seeks remedy from the company that wronged them, and the company completely blows the opportunity to prove they’re really all about the customer. Instead they blow them off, or insult them with a feeble attempt at compensation and look like a bunch of non-caring jerks.
I wouldn’t have been so riled up about the recent hot water outage in my apartment but for the way the staff handled the situation. The first time it happened, I was upset, but the email I received after the fact offered an apology and explained the situation. I read it and was satisfied to know that the problem was being taken care of. If they had sent a properly worded email the second time it happened, I probably wouldn’t have gone onto this blog to open up a can of Internet Wrath™.
Stuff happens, and I believe that most people are willing to accept that stuff happens as long as you don’t insult their intelligence by ignoring them, insulting their intellgence or being condescending. Own the problem, let your customers know that things are being attended to, and most folks will accept that. Don’t make it worse.
In any event, the hot water is back, so its time for a bath. I ain’t dipping my big toe in that tub until its good and ready, though!