Refunds are for cowards

No-refund-online-legal-serviceTuesday I had a major issue with my host provider Inmotion Hosting. I discovered that my beautiful new site no longer looked so beautiful, instead offering searches for heart valves and similar terms. Obviously, they were no longer hosting my domain.

I immediately called support, and my tech acknowledged their systems did not execute my domain renewal. He emailed their hosting provider and told me I’d be fixed within 24-48 hours. I had a focus group to attend, so hung up and asked to have a supervisor call me. After a few hours with no call I called back. This tech understood my urgency and had the problem resolved within 20 minutes.

On thing that’s interesting is that Inmotion Hosting doesn’t do surveys. Instead, they send an automated email from the tech asking me to email the supervisor if I had great service.

Aftermath

Oh, I emailed the supervisor. I told her my tech was great, but that this was a mess. It’s their job to discover when they mistakenly fail to renew a domain, not mine. That’s customer experience 101 – reduce your customer’s effort.

I wish I could say she understood the problem and called me back as I requested. Instead, the next thing I saw was a refund “as I requested” for the $11.99 domain registration fee with no explanation.

Yippee! That certainly made up for my website and email being down for 4-6 hours!

Shortly thereafter, rather than a phone call, I received a terrible email explaining that when this happens, the only way they can find out is when a customer complains, and a note that she requested my refund.

But I don’t want a refund. Keep your $12.

Understand Your Customers

This lesson extends well beyond mediocre hosting companies. Customers don’t call because they want a refund. I don’t spend an hour on the phone because I want $12 back. Callers just want to be heard.

My client shared a similar story that night. She, her husband and her 4-year-old Jack were at a restaurant, had to wait forever for their food, only to have it messed up. As a fellow CX pro, she took the manager aside and told her about their problems. Rather than acknowledging the mistake and asking for another chance to set things right, the manager dramatically ripped up her check.

I’m sure she felt that this dramatic effort showed she cared. But my client didn’t want a free dinner – she was more interested in helping the store. And she left the restaurant more frustrated by the manager’s actions than by the service problem itself.

Giving refunds is easy and feels good. And there are certainly times when refunds are warranted. But it should never be your lead option. Instead, drop what you are doing and actively listen to your customer. Ensure that they know they are heard. Then take visible steps to fix the problem.

It’s not as easy as ripping up a check. But it’s far more likely to create a loyal customer.

Now I have to go and find a new web hosting company.