Complete Guide To Dealing WIth Difficult, Angry, Aggressive And  Abusive Customers

Learn what to say, when to say it and stay stress free, safe, and professional under pressure

When a Customer Asks to Be Served Ahead of Other Waiting Customers

Here's a situation that is often mishandled by customer facing staff, and if it's not handled properly, the result in OTHER customers who become annoyed, or even aggressive.


Here’s a situation you may have encountered if you work in a retail environment. A customer in a line up at the cash register asks whether she can be served without waiting, because she is either in a hurry, or feels that her small number of items somehow justifies moving ahead of people with many more items to be processed at the checkout. Denying the request may incur the ire of the customer requesting the “speedup,” while accommodating the request may alienate the people ahead of her inthe line. What do you do?


¦ Offer Choices/Empowering (1)


Four people are waiting in line at a grocery store. The first three people have full baskets while the fourth person has only three items.The customer with the fewest items gets your attention and asks if she can go first.
Customer: I’m in a real hurry and I only have a few items, so can I go ahead of these people?
Employee: Since these people have been waiting longer and might also be in a rush, it’s really up to them (1). If they don’t mind, I can take you first.Otherwise, the wait is only a few minutes.
Customer: [to others in the line] Does anyone mind if I go ahead of you?


The cashier could have made a judgment call in this situation and made the decision himself, but that would have put the cashier in the middle—really between a rock and a hard place. Instead, the employee turns the responsibility
for the decision back to where it belongs—to the people who might be inconvenienced. He provides the opportunity for the customer in a hurry to ask the others (1), if she chooses to do so. It’s then up to the other customers.
Not only is that the fairest way to deal with this situation, but it also sends the message that the customers who have been waiting are important to the employee.


Notice that the cashier doesn’t volunteer to ask the other customers himself. He puts the responsibility (and the choice) to do so on the customer who wants to be served first. Another reason for doing it this way is that it helps
the other customers see the employee as neutral on this issue.
In situations like this, the employee needs to have a unanimous “vote” to break with procedure. A majority vote is not enough to change the order/procedure.

This is from Perfect Phrases For Customer Service, published by McGraw-Hill. Priced at about ten dollars, it's one of the most succinct and powerful ways to upgrade your customer service skills. Practical and with over a hundred examples of what to say in tough customer situations.

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