Everything was going smoothly at the call center. Agents were on top of customer issues, customer cases were being resolved, nothing had fallen through the cracks. But then out of nowhere, bad things started happening. Unhappy customers. Missing customer cases. Glitches in promo codes. No way this was a result of bad customer service....or was it?

We’re all aware of the importance of keeping our customers happy. But despite our best efforts to provide great customer service, mistakes inevitably happen, sometimes even beyond our control. In the spirit of Halloween, a few of our customers shared their customer service horror stories and what they did to survive.

Nightmare on Reddit

Discounts and referral programs can be good way to attract new customers and promote a product or service. However, if there’s a glitch in the system, forums and social networks can be a real nightmare for the company involved. That’s exactly what happened to Sticker Mule when they launched their referral program.

How It Started: “The referral program allowed anyone to give a friend $10 and get $10 when someone you refer buys,” said CEO Tim Song. “When we launched the Reddit Sticker store, we started selling stickers for $4.00. Eventually, someone on Reddit figured you can get free stickers by collecting the $10 referral credit and then buying a $4 sticker which got them another $10 to buy more. The next day, I woke up to find Redditors had placed 500 free orders and $100 orders were being placed every hour and growing as the thread was moving up the rankings. By the time they implemented a restriction, 1,000 free orders were placed for Reddit stickers.”

How It Ended: “ We shipped all 1000 free orders so everyone was happy. No one really complained once we added a $50 restriction on using store credit because everyone using our referral system to get free orders knew they were gaming the system and ended up being surprised that we honored all orders.”

Survival Tip: “Never make an assumption about how your users will behave or how quickly information can travel on the Internet. Provide the best service even if it costs extra. Having great customer service is the best way to enjoy strong referral sales.”

The Curse of the Spam Filter

Your business should have an airtight system to track customer cases. But if you “set it and forget it” and never check your spam filter, you might miss cases. Stylehatch learned that the hard way.

How It Started: Stylehatch puts a priority on customer service with their “super-speedy-super-hero-like responses.” So when a handful of emails went unnoticed, some customers were unhappy, one woman in particular sent multiple emails to them for customer support.

“We found a handful of emails in spam, we replied to everyone apologizing and providing extra help,” said Founder Jonathan Moore. “We even bumped cases [like hers] up to priority 9 so that we get back to those replies first. When we finally pulled her email out of spam our auto responder kicked in with a funny response and a link to a video. That lightened the mood and she sent back, “Those no-handed bike moves were so rad. The lady shave was my fave.”:

The accompanying video: A Professional Display of No-Handed Bike Moves:

How it Ended: “Our response to her was helpful which ultimately left her thankful and apologizing for being rude.”

Survival Tip: “For a tip, I would say lighten the mood with the auto responder. Make it funny and light. If you send an email to support@stylehatch.co you’ll see. After hours we change it up a bit and even more so during the weekend letting people know we’re busy wrestling sharks.”

Even the best customer support agents can have their bad days. So if something goes wrong for the customer, go above and beyond to make it right. Your customer service goal should be low on horror and high on feel-good.

SmugMug Super Heroes to the Rescue

Check out our customer Smugmug who dressed up as superheroes for Halloween. According to their support team, “there’s no horror stories at Smugmug, just masked superheroes helping customers overcome horror-ible personal tragedies.” Earlier this year, the company sent Sam, a little boy fighting cancer, a wall of SuperHero photos to show him “that we’ve got his back.” His Dad even expressed their gratitude on his blog. “This is the kind of stuff the Heroes do every day...from overnighting photos to extending customer accounts...” They do whatever it takes to put a smile on a face.What’s your customer service tale of terror? How did your team work through a tough case and make your customer happy?

This story was originally published on the Desk.com blog.