Monday, February 6, 2012

How to turn $20 into $20

"...ensure the health and growth of the company you work for, and ultimately the security of your employment." 

We do this almost daily, we enter a convenience store, select our milk and bread (or other required items), approach the cash register. The amount is tallied on the cash register, we reach into our wallets, select a twenty dollar bill, hand it to the cashier, they take it, put it in the register and hand you appropriate change, and are on our way.

Nothing notable in this, one would expect... but there is something significant that just transpired. A closer look might be interesting. I suggest, the next time you have the opportunity to watch a person in front of you in the register line.. Examine the body language of this transaction.

The customer looks closely at the total amount displayed on the cash register. It represents money, it is not a number.. it is value or a cost. Opening a wallet or purse, there is a very quick analysis of how much money is in there, as they flip through the bills, an instantaneous inventory of how much money remains, as a bill is subtracted from the total to cover the cost of the purchase.

Instantly, as the bill is handed to the clerk, it changes, in the hands of the clerk, it becomes valueless, it is just a piece of paper that will only be stuffed (rather disrespectfully) along with the stacks of money already in the till. It only becomes a number that will be counted at the end of the shift and recorded on a piece of paper for deposit. The deposit book is filled with numbers, not a value of what the money can buy, or how much work it took the customers to do to earn that cash... It is just a number on a spreadsheet that will later be added to a balance in a bank account.

I was pleased to be asked to speak at a hospitality business this coming weekend to assist in training their staff on customer service. The organization deals with the public spending their own money for their services (not business to business industry, but a consumer to business industry). I will be basing my presentation on the scenario above.

How would company representatives react to a new policy such as:
" If a client is not unconditionally satisfied and be without hesitation, willing to repeat the service again, the company representative would be required to pay all cost of the service personally and return all of the money to the customer from their own pocket." 

You have a decision, you are booking a vacation and have a choice of two resorts, nearly identical in service offerings, but one has a policy as detailed above, you are aware that if you are not completely satisfied with your expensive experience, the staff you interact with will open their wallets and pay your expense. You would know for a fact that every staff member you interact with would recognize the value of your money. They would not stuff your money in a register and treat it as a mere exchange of a piece of paper. They would ensure that you had a flawless experience, and go above and beyond to fix any issues that might arise. The decision of which resort you would travel to would be a very simple one... a service that you would be please to repeat again in the future.

Of course, this sort of policy does not exist, and never would. However, this extreme example serves a purpose. Having staff or being a company representative that pause before robotically jamming your money in a till, ensures that the client is happy with the exchange and will return as a repeat customer.

A company that maintains at all levels, from the staff that accepts clients payments, to the staff that deliver the service, to the management that decide the direction of the company, the ability to recognize the fact that the clients are giving them real twenty dollar bills, not just numbers on a deposit book will easily beat out their competition.

On a personal note, I have the pleasure of dealing with a local musical instrument company, Tony’s Music Box, where, when I hand them my money, I can easily sense that they are very aware and respect the value that money has to me and although there are other music stores I can purchase identical items,  I am loyal to this establishment for the positive experience.

Try these two items. One, examine the body language of a customer in front of you and how the money loses it value the moment it is in the cashiers hands, and two, reflect on a very positive service experience you have and in the past, and how the customer service representatives respected your money.

This is a very simple awareness for anyone working in an industry that serves the public that would ensure the health and growth of the company you work for, and ultimately the security of your employment.


  1. True points. However at some point that business, counts the value of that money, then gives a pay cheque to said cashier who then takes that money and then the money has value again. I can assure you the business owner, understands full well the value of the money. Cashier does not, as it is not theirs until it is returned in the form of a pay cheque. In saying that, great points you just missed out the step. Much as a said cashier puts time and effort into displaying the merchandise, and packaging your item up in a caring manner only to have the customer, make a mess of a display, rip, tear and throw out the packaging.

    1. GREAT comments, and I should have been more careful, in not shedding any negativity on cashiers, nor any front line staff. I agree that this role covers MUCH more than exchanging money at the register. My comments are intended for everyone within an organization that has influence of a customer experience (I would actually argue that every person in an organization has this responsibility). I will also concur with your thoughts on customers disrespecting vendors, however, every function within a company has components of their job that are distasteful, but they still should represent their company with respect and maintain unwavering focus on positive customer experience. (as difficult as that may be sometimes) - and specific to the point of this blog, respect the value of the money that clients are feeding into the company.

      In regards to the owner respecting the value of the clients hard earned money.. I agree to your comments to a point.. I fear that many owners are focused on big picture and clients are more often referred to as "Traffic Numbers", "Daily Sales".

      This article is focused on the full industry of Consumer to Business market, and can stretch from a family run convenience store to a 5 star International Hotel Chain.. again, as examples I alluded to a convenience store, however, it was intended to be much broader than that.

    2. I think it is a common problem for the value of the customer's dollar to be lost in the day to day grind of business.

      As business owners or customer service staff we need to keep every transaction in perspective. How important is this transaction to the customer in front of me? How can I give them the good value that they are looking for.

    3. Absolutely Andrew.. interesting when I researched this topic, I found complicated, high maintenance processes for managing a high level of customer satisfaction.. time intensive checks and balances. Reporting, and training. All important things I suppose... But the most effective, easiest and no investment required change.. is for a company from the folks that clean the floors to the CEO, recognize and respect the value of the money that their customers are giving the company. It is very easy for a consumer to spend their money with a different company that does care.