3 Ways to Not Pass the Buck in Customer Service

dont-pass-the-buckWaiting in line to buy a pre-made turkey and cheese sandwich at the Denver airport today, I witness one of the most common customer service mistakes. And while it didn’t shock me nor did I say anything to either party, it still struck a chord.

I’m paying for my outrageously priced sandwich (I’m starving and need to board my flight so don’t judge me for giving into this) and a woman picks up a Lunchable from the refrigerated area next to me. She asks the cashier, “Excuse me, how much is this?” The cashier immediately says, “$3.99.” Then she says, “Oh wait.  That was last week. They are $5.99 now.”

Talk about a price bump!

The woman and I made eye contact, wide eyed and confused.  She asks, “Uh, that’s a bit crazy. Why did the price raise so much?” The cashier shrugs, looking down at her computer to process my payment, and says “I don’t know. I don’t make these decisions. It’s out of my hands.” The woman stands there, mouth open, puts the Lunchable back and leaves. The cashier hands me my card and then laughs and says, “I don’t make these decisions! It’s not on me!”

I sign my receipt and leave. I really wanted to tell this cashier that while she made a mistake with the price, a little responsibility and apology could go a long way. And, she could have offered up some meal alternatives that were more affordable for her customer. She also could have left out the part about it not being her decision to make these changes. While it isn’t up to her to make these price adjustments, she’s still representing the store, so why not show some respect?  However, I’m guessing she’s not a very happy employee so why act any differently?

How often is it that we’re at a store, something happens and the representative states, “Hey, it’s not my fault it’s this way.”

Sure, there are sometimes policies we must follow and sometimes they may not seem fair. Passing the buck and claiming ignorance is the easy way out. As customer service representatives, how do we follow these policies and take ownership of the issues?

So, I got to thinking—there’s gotta be a way to steer clear of this method.

Here are three ways to NOT pass the buck in customer service:

1. Give Facts and Take Ownership. While factual evidence may not necessarily please any customer, having facts of why things are one way or another is helpful for people to grasp and understand. You’re the representative for the company so taking ownership is important to show you know the brand and can provide information to help your customer understand.

2 Give Alternatives and Take Chances. You may not be able to do exactly what they want, but how can you creatively offer alternatives that will keep your customer happy? Take a chance, be creative and offer a product or solution to your customer to see if they are game. You  never know–it might just become their new favorite thing!

3. Give Empathy and Take a Walk in Their Shoes. Apologize. If you’ve provided the facts, given alternatives make sure to offer up an honest apology. Picture yourself in that situation–how would YOU want the situation resolved for your own experience?

So, next time an issue is brought to your attention and it’s out of your hands…how can you not pass the buck?

Share this post:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *