Have you ever asked an employee of a business a question and the response they gave you seemed odd? Did you wonder if the employee didn’t know the answer, was just following policy or perhaps just didn’t care? Either way, when a customer perceives an employee’s response to be strange or not very practical, the result will never be well received in the eyes of a customer. Let me share with you a response I recently received from a bank clerk and you tell me what your first thoughts would be.

I needed to exchange five $20 bills for a $100 bill for a gift I was giving to a loved one. I was out of town but found a branch of my particular bank in the area to make the exchange.

When I walked up to the cashier at the bank, I told her that I have an account at this bank and asked if she could provide me a hundred dollar bill in exchange for the five twenties. She immediately said; “I don’t have any hundreds.” I then asked if any of the other cashiers working beside her could make the exchange. She then replied; “They don’t have any either.”

At that moment, my first impression was that the cashier didn’t want to bother to help me. She didn’t even ask the other cashiers or offer to look elsewhere. Not only was the cashier not helpful but it seemed a little odd to me that a bank wouldn’t have any one hundred dollar bills? I then asked the cashier; “This is a bank isn’t it? You mean you really don’t have any one-hundred dollar bills? Her response was that they don’t have any. How can that be? Was she answering truthfully or was it just a some kind foolish policy? She then provided some assistance by offering to give me two fifties instead. I had no choice but to accept her offer.  If this had been my local branch at home I may have had to speak to a manager. Instead,  I just walked away like most customers, frustrated and disappointed in my experience.

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1.   Make sure that you and your employees never come across as not “caring” to a customer.

2.   Ask others for help or assistance if you can’t solve a customer request. It will show that you at least you are trying.

3.   Check and recheck that your policies don’t appear to be unreasonable, foolish and impractical in the eyes of your customers. Ask around the office and others what they think of a policy before implementing it into practice. Even outsiders who may not use your product or service to get their opinion first.

A good colleague of mine reminds me often that : “Sometimes common sense is not always common practice”. There is a lot of merit in that statement. Make sure you are using and implementing “common sense” in your business. Otherwise your customer experience, like the one I received at my bank will not be very magical.