Sure, a pat on the back might have sufficed at this point, but I decided it was time to treat myself to a cup of coffee. I checked my pockets for cash and swung in to the neighborhood coffee shop.
I ordered myself my usual (tall black coffee) and handed the cashier two, one dollar bills. She paused. She got out a marker. She marked the one dollar bill and then looked up at me – the tired mother of three who runs a charity organization on the side – and said in front of the entire line, “I don’t think this dollar is real.”
“What? It’s real.”
“No, it’s not the right color and looks smaller than the other bills.”
In her defense, this dollar did look like it was washed more times than the jeans I had on. But it was real.
She leaned in, “Ma’am, I don’t think this is real and I don’t want to get in trouble. Do you have another one?”
I felt for this poor girl who thought she might get in trouble for taking an allegedly counterfeit one dollar bill. I had some quarters, so I replaced the dollar in question, got my coffee and left the store formulating how many funny Facebook posts I could get out of this one.
Really? A counterfeit one dollar bill? Who has the time for that?
Customer Service CliffsNotes
Having been in customer or client services since I threw my first newspaper on a porch in the third grade, this incident got me thinking. Besides not accusing your loyal customers of being counterfeiters, what makes great customer service?
I could make this post pretty complicated with research and formulas that I know are necessary and create better customer service for us all. But if you don’t have time to read all that today, take a look at these customer service cliffsnotes that can help you service the next customer who walks in your door.
No matter what the circumstance, there is no reason to be mean. It never makes anything better.
As a matter of fact, this girl was very tactful and kind as she accused me of running a citywide one dollar bill counterfeiting scheme. She made it easy for me to feel for her and find more money.
Although I’m sure in some sort of training scenario her manager would have said the right thing to do is to take the dollar from the completely-loyal-and-returning customer and wish her a good day. But at least her tone and kindness in the matter left me joking about it instead of going on a social media coffee shop attack.
Always remember that if someone is upset, there was a series of events that got them there which may or may not have anything to do with you. But alas, there they are in all their anger and frustration looking right at you.
Put yourself in their shoes. Take a deep breath and simply ask, ‘What would be most helpful to you right now?’ And then address it as best you can. We all need help. You know the saying, “It takes a village.”
I know this is a very short list but it could make a huge difference to your customers. I should probably add “Be real.” But I think I’m really just talking about the dollar.