teachDuring training sessions, it’s understandable that we often learn from positive customer service stories. They give us something to emulate, to aspire to. When we hear about companies or individuals setting the gold standard of service, we can be inspired in our own interactions with our customers. But stories of customer service disasters are also immensely valuable from a training perspective. Read through the following stories of poor experiences as told by the customers who lived them and then review them with your fellow representatives. They are perfect for “find the error” challenges and “right the wrong” exercises.

Michael has a home mortgage set up on auto-pay, so imagine his surprise when he saw a late payment charge in his bank account! “I called the bank, assuming it was an error that would be quickly corrected. Instead, I was told that, in 2011, I made a late payment. I pointed out that it is now 2016… The representative insisted that the charge was valid from 2011 and was only now being reflected on my account ‘a tad late’. I don’t call five years after the fact ‘a tad late’, but decided to skip over that point and go to the fact that my account has been on auto-pay since its inception in 2008, so it is not possible that any payment was ever late and I simply want a refund for this erroneous fee. The representative ignored all logic and fact, insisting that ‘the charge is valid, you owe it, and you should review your payment settings if this is an ongoing problem’. I felt like I had suddenly been transported to an alternate universe.”

Lydia ordered several items of clothing from a well-respected retailer. Upon arrival, she decided against a few and mailed them back with the retailer’s included return postage label. Having not received a prompt refund, she called in to inquire about the status. “I spoke with someone in customer service, asking about my return. To my surprise, apparently neither of the shipments had arrived to them. To my further surprise, the company could not track the shipments despite being the ones who provided the prepaid return shipping labels! I was shocked they have no decent record keeping system. I was even more shocked when the representative told me that I should try calling up my credit card company and disputing the charges – instead of her refunding the amounts directly. I couldn’t believe it. I want to call back and speak with a supervisor, but after that first call, I don’t know that I have the energy for it.”

Can you understand the customers’ frustrations from the above interactions? How can the errors be righted? Add poor personal experiences from your own team’s interactions as customers and make a training game of it. Sometimes “what not to do” stories are even more valuable than tales of going above and beyond.