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Old 12-23-2013, 11:26 AM
 
Location: NJ
804 posts, read 1,407,979 times
Reputation: 725

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I work in retail and I had a situation yesterday in which I was not sure what to do. Here was what happened:

Customers approaches me with her receipt and said something was rung up incorrectly. She had already waited in line for a long time and wanted me to expedite the process by allowing her to go to customer service immediately. She didn't want to wait in the long line at customer service which probably had 7-8 people. I understand it was our mistake in not having the sale price ring up, but what if other people in line had to come back for the same reason. It brings me back to a situation I had about a year ago where a computer froze and I wanted to move some customers to another line who had been waiting for an extremely long time. A woman in the other line flipped out and left because I asked if one person with a few items could go in front. So, what would you do? Allow the customer to "cut" everyone because of the mistake and risk others becoming angry or immediately help her.

Luckily, we had someone open up a service register, so I just told her to go there. Technically, she "cut" everyone, but I thought it was the right decision. What do you think?
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Old 12-23-2013, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,546 posts, read 55,485,543 times
Reputation: 32304
Nope. Absolutely the WRONG decision. I used to run into similar situations all the time in movie theatres, where people would be standing in long ticket lines, spy a friend, and want to have them cut into the line. You NEVER allow anyone to cut a line without the complete agreement of EVERYONE else in the line, and even then you have to explain briefly why it is to their advantage. I've seen assistant managers get punched out for failing to understand that.

"I'm sorry, but those people who are waiting in line at customer service have already been waiting in line themselves. I wouldn't allow a customer to cut in front of you, and I can't allow you to cut in front of them."

You might consider "expediting" to be a courtesy, but what it actually does is encourage narcissistic anti-social behavior, often with someone who ALREADY feels "entitled." You got lucky.

Handling long lines and large crowds is a skill and talent. Other than enforcing the commonly known rules, it is best not to mess with such groups.
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Old 12-23-2013, 05:25 PM
 
537 posts, read 1,018,187 times
Reputation: 1265
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Nope. Absolutely the WRONG decision. I used to run into similar situations all the time in movie theatres, where people would be standing in long ticket lines, spy a friend, and want to have them cut into the line. You NEVER allow anyone to cut a line without the complete agreement of EVERYONE else in the line, and even then you have to explain briefly why it is to their advantage. I've seen assistant managers get punched out for failing to understand that.

"I'm sorry, but those people who are waiting in line at customer service have already been waiting in line themselves. I wouldn't allow a customer to cut in front of you, and I can't allow you to cut in front of them."

You might consider "expediting" to be a courtesy, but what it actually does is encourage narcissistic anti-social behavior, often with someone who ALREADY feels "entitled." You got lucky.


Handling long lines and large crowds is a skill and talent. Other than enforcing the commonly known rules, it is best not to mess with such groups.
Agree. Agree. Agree.

Did I say I agree?

I made so many mistakes when I worked in customer service, and that was one of them.
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Old 12-23-2013, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
40,076 posts, read 48,987,760 times
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OP if you have 7 or 8 people waiting in line and impatiently, why are you not calling over another employee(s) or the manager to assist you in expediting the services to these paying customers.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:14 AM
 
Location: NJ
804 posts, read 1,407,979 times
Reputation: 725
There are only three registers that can handle returns and they were all being operated.

My gut feeling was to tell her that I can not allow her to go to the front of the line. But, she was so angry/impatient which kind of forced my hand.

Anyways, I guess I learned my lesson. Will not happen again. I have to be more stern with people since being the nice guy always leads to be taken advantage of
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:28 AM
 
Location: Portland, OR
416 posts, read 754,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankees1212 View Post
But, she was so angry/impatient which kind of forced my hand.
I hope you're not planning on getting a degree in business or management. You NEVER let someone force your hand. EVER.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,546 posts, read 55,485,543 times
Reputation: 32304
"I have to be more stern with people since being the nice guy always leads to be taken advantage of "

No. "Stern" is reserved for management and generally only used after all else fails. You can simply reflect what it is the person is asking for, say briefly how it will negatively affect the other customers, sympathize, and then say no - or... ask if they want to wait for a manager. Sometimes people are just venting frustration and need to be "heard." If they are wrapped up in their own emotions, they may not have even thought about how their actions might impact others. (Be prepared for "don't be condescending to me" remarks. People can have odd defenses about being called to task, even in a pleasant way.)
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
416 posts, read 754,291 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
"I have to be more stern with people since being the nice guy always leads to be taken advantage of "

No. "Stern" is reserved for management and generally only used after all else fails. You can simply reflect what it is the person is asking for, say briefly how it will negatively affect the other customers, sympathize, and then say no - or... ask if they want to wait for a manager. Sometimes people are just venting frustration and need to be "heard." If they are wrapped up in their own emotions, they may not have even thought about how their actions might impact others. (Be prepared for "don't be condescending to me" remarks. People can have odd defenses about being called to task, even in a pleasant way.)
Exactly.

When I was a Sales Supervisor for Best Buy, and subsequently, an Assistant Branch Manager / later a Branch Manager, I always told my associates, "Let ME be the bad guy. If I need to be stern or deliver information the client doesn't want to hear, allow me to take point and handle it. The client is likely to see you more, so play nice with them - it'll benefit "

Managers are there for a reason - they carry the experience and the knowledge to take on a challenging situation. They are also there to take on the hard-to-deal-with clients.

In addition, I can't tell you how many times I've had clients refuse an answer from an associate, and once they hear it from the person with the "Asst. Vice President / Branch Manager" title, the client accepts the answer.

Are customers annoying and sometimes stupid? Yes. But it doesn't mean any associate should take the decision-making powers into their own hands.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:10 PM
 
Location: NJ
804 posts, read 1,407,979 times
Reputation: 725
Quote:
Originally Posted by JXBC View Post
I hope you're not planning on getting a degree in business or management. You NEVER let someone force your hand. EVER.
I plan on getting a degree in business. Thanks for the boost in confidence.

I get it; I made a mistake, but some of you assume that a manager is sitting by without nothing better to do. Usually, they are either dealing with an issue somewhere else in the store or in the back office. It's frustrating to explain something to a customer and for them to ask to talk to a manager JUST so the manager can reiterate verbatim what I said. Imo, it's a waste of time, but I do get the point that the manager "title" in and of itself contains an inherent power to shut customers up.

And I believe I misspoke with the "force my hand" comment. I sympathized too much with the customer and got caught up wanting to help without thinking about others. As you can see, I immediately saw my mistake and made this thread to get others' opinions, thereby affirming my intuition that I DID make a mistake.
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Old 12-25-2013, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,546 posts, read 55,485,543 times
Reputation: 32304
You'll notice that I said "ask if they want to wait for a manager." It is all just part of the experience of working with the public.

Some areas of the country are more contentious than others. South Florida in particular can have actively hostile customers. I remember one manager who was busy with a dozen things and a large crowd, being accosted by a customer who had been told "no" by a staff member, a different staff member, and then an assistant manager with their complaint. After the manager also said "no" the customer asked "Is there anyone higher up I can talk to?" The manager rolled his eyes, pointed and looked up, and said "Start talking. It won't make any difference, my decisions stands."
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