Murphy’s Law in Customer Service. If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will.

Life is full of surprises. No matter how well you are prepared, there’s always something that can go wrong. And you cannot even imagine what it will be. Given that Murphy’s laws of customer service is to be perfectly prepared, you need to be prepared for the worst.

If you deal with customers every day, you might recognize yourself in many of the following situations that always happen when you don’t see it coming.

Laws of customer service


The client will call only when you had left for a coffee break. And when you call back, he/she won’t be available in office.

It’s also a common thing for live chat operators. If you’re the only person available now, the visitors will want to talk once you step away from your computer. Obviously you cannot be available for eight hours straight without backup. That’s why pre-chat fields that include email address are very helpful – you can contact the visitor via email when you get back. You can also enable a virtual agent, and take over once you return.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

Well, don’t seriously expect your customers to read the instructions. You can have the best and the clearest instructions in the world, but contacting support often goes before reading the instruction.

It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

You cannot even imagine. Just bear with it, and don’t laugh too loud.

Never ask two questions in a business letter. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested in, and say nothing about the other.

That’s so familiar. If you have a list of questions, there is a chance that they’ll be answered one by one. But when you ask two questions, be sure your respondent will pick one.

People don’t make the same mistake twice, they make it three, four, or five times.

Maybe they just like it that way. Or they want it work that way. There’s a good signal that you may need to make some changes.

The smaller the dollar amount of a contract the longer it will take to negotiate.

The Pareto principle always works. 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. There’s really nothing you can do about it. Just remember that in many cases big contracts will not happen without a small one in the beginning.

If it’s not in the computer, it doesn’t exist.

Office phone system calls cannot be underestimated. They are still one of the best ways to quickly discuss anything with your clients. But it’s so easy to forget about something. After you put the phone down, open your help desk program, and send a phone call summary to your client.

When a customer says, “It’s perfect except…” you know it will be necessary to rebuild the whole piece.

Oh, designers know it the best.

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

If you agree with the statement, it should be good a motivator to reconsider your approach. Doing it right form the very beginning always turns to be faster and cheaper than doing it twice.

When you really need something, its either not available, or can’t be found.  When you don’t need it, its either available, or lays around in plain sight.

This reminds me of canned responses as live chat basics. When you have a plenty of them, you can’t just scroll and find one quickly. That’s why we implemented a quick search with hash tags. You type #keyword in the message field, and you get what you need immediately.

If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage.

Never underestimate the power of words. If you are not sure that your message is clear enough, exemplify, make screenshots, draw, do anything to deliver the right message.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.

When everything goes wrong, improvisation is the only solution you have left. I bet the most memorable episodes of one’s life are never planned. So relax and give way to your fantasy and experience the laws of customer service.

The coffee machine will be empty, when you need coffee most.

Cher up and get some chocolate. Or better jump. Jump until you feel awake and happy. It may help better than coffee.

The first 90% of a project requires 90% of the allotted time. The remaining 10% takes another 90% of the allotted time.

This is our favorite. Sometimes if feels like a project can never be fully finished. Software products can either be launched at some point, or get old together with developers who try to make them perfect before the launch. Balance is the key to success.

If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway

One cannot be prepared for everything. We all have to admit that unexpected things happen. Your experience, imagination and sense of humor will help you address all possible challenges.

Our thanks to the guys from the Murphy’s laws site who collect laws of Murphy in one place to help us understand the laws of customer service.