Owning Customer Issues Keep Bad Reviews From Owning You

The best “magic” to having a great online reputation isn’t a tool or a hack, but solid customer service.  I wanted to share a recent customer experience that I had with FedEx and how it could have resulted in a very different outcome than it did.

own the issue

My issue worked out in the end because of one reason, one of their employees decided to own my problem.  You’ll also read that a couple of their employees didn’t own it or even made the problem bigger.  But in the end, one great employee owning the issue saved the day, for me and for FedEx.

An Un-banner Experience Getting A Banner

You might have read a couple of weeks ago that GetFiveStars was a sponsor at MozCon Local.  This was a first for us as we had never sponsored an event or had a booth to engage with customers and prospects.  We speak at many conferences, but it was our first booth.

Mozcon local 2017

The conference was providing some basics, but we needed a bit of branding and signage. I worked with our designer to create a nice pop-up banner for the show.  It would be our main signage at the event.

It was designed, ordered and I selected 2 day shipping so I would get it a few days ahead of my trip to Seattle.  But that didn’t happen.  Snow in the midwest delayed my order one day and it was now the day before I was leaving, a Saturday, and I still didn’t have the banner.

Not Going Far Enough Is Still Falling Short

I called FedEx’s customer service number on Saturday morning around 10:00am and spoke with a woman named Helen.  She explained the weather delay and that my package was sitting in a distribution center about an hour from my house, but it would be delivered until Monday.  That was too late, the event was Monday and I would be flying out Sunday.

Helen put me on hold to help me out and came back after 10 minutes to let me know the package was verified as being there and that I could pick it up that day, anytime before they closed at 5pm.  While not ideal, this was a win.  I just needed the banner before I got on the plane at 9am the next morning.

Before hanging up I asked Helen if she needed to make a note in the system or anything since I was coming to get it and breaking the original plan to have it delivered.  She replied “no, just show up before they close.”

Surprise, But Not The Good Kind

I got to the FedEx center at 4:15pm and walked up to the counter.  When I gave them my tracking number, they let me know that package was in a big shipping container with thousands of items that was still packed tight and they couldn’t get to it as most of the staff was already gone.


I was back to bummed.  The employee helping me commented that if I would have given them a heads-up earlier in the day they would have made sure my package was unpacked and ready for me.

What?!?  Wow, Helen should have done that for me.  I even asked if she needed to do that. She didn’t. I was about to blow up.

I stood there, asked for any other solutions and was given nothing that would suffice.  I asked for a direct way to speak to a manager in customer service and was told just to call in to the 800 number again.

I Found A Customer Service Hero

When I called back in to FedEx’s customer service I explained my situation and that most of my frustration now fell on being mishandled by my earlier rep. FedEx had the chance to get me the package but one of their team didn’t communicate enough internally or follow-through and thus fell short.

The rep transferred me to a CS manager, who put me in touch with Tracy from the Customer Advocacy Team.  Tracy heard me out, worked to understand the situation and started planning out options to get me the banner.

In short, she ended up calling into the FedEx center and asked one of the employees to stay after closing and start going through the container.  His name was Marshall and he likely had better plans for his Saturday night, but he closed up and went to work on finding my package.

I stayed in the parking lot and Tracy called me about 5:30pm to let me know he was 1/4 of the way through the container and would keep going.  She was keeping me updated and my hope was still alive.

About 5 minutes later I got a call from a new FedEx number I hadn’t been in touch with. It was another woman from their CS team and she wanted to let me know that Marshall had left and that my package would be delivered on Monday.  What?!?  I asked if she had talked to Tracy and she said she picked up my case file in the system and was just relaying the updated status to me.

I didn’t believe her.  I couldn’t imagine for the life of me why Tracy would just abandon me.  I told the CS rep that I was staying in the parking lot and that I believed Tracy would call me herself.  She was my life line. 🙂

Even through that last call bummed me out, I still had hope because Tracy had built trust with me.  Then, close to 5:45pm, Marshall opened the doors of the office and waived me in.  He had my package.  It was a huge win.


Tracy Saved A 1-Star Review And More

The banner made it to Seattle and was the focus point of our booth.

GFS Banner

The lesson in this story is pretty obvious.  It takes one person owning a customer’s problem to win.  Multiple others at FedEx didn’t own it.  But Tracy did and it made all of the difference.

She saved a bad online review and plenty of grumbling from me to others on what took place.  Now my story is one of a hero, not of a company that has multiple people not caring. That’s a massive difference.

Problems and customer issues are going to happen in business, but how you handle them can have long lasting results.

So work with your team and within yourself to own it.  When you fail to own the problem, customers will write poor online reviews or tell others in person about their bad experience that ultimately will have control over you.

You’ll obsess about that bad review, wish you could delete it, reach back out to fix it later to try to get it updated, or explain to future customers it was a one time issue … if you even get the chance to do that.

So thank you Tracy, I didn’t get to talk to you again, but I’d hire you any day to make my customers happy.





Sign-up to receive our monthly email newsletter packed with new features, tips, news and webinar invites.



We'll help you build a better business

Our goal is to help you connect with your customers to gain valuable insight on what’s important to them. While you happy customers will help your marketing, your unhappy customers will point out where you can improve and our system will help you communicate with them to keep them with you.