Company Policy or Common Decency?
by Ann Thrope
So you landed your new job. You’ve gone through the interviews, training, and meeting your coworkers. Being new, you need to make sure that you don’t slip up, or else you won’t last long. But what if a situation presents itself that tests your training, like a woman who is angry because you won’t double her coupons for sale items, or someone becoming upset over a mispriced item? Turning off your inner voice that tells you to do what is right can be difficult, but this article will teach you how to extinguish that nagging conscience, follow the rules, and keep your job.
Let’s say you’re working the tobacco counter at a retail store. A male customer approaches to purchase cigarettes, and you see that the customer appears to be around 32 years of age. Store policy tells you to card all customers who appear to be under the age of 35, even though the state law only limits sales to those over 18. After asking for identification, the customer becomes upset because he left his ID in the car not expecting to be carded. You could simply sell him the cigarettes and trust your judgment, but doing so would put you at risk. To handle this customer, follow our simple acronym, we call it the F.A.C.E. system:
Follow the Rules – Most importantly, never break or bend the rules. The rules are your code, and as long as you follow them, you will keep your job. Your job, and what it provides you, is more important than any silly ideas of right and wrong you might have, ideas don’t pay the bills. Don’t try to be “nice.” If a bill is $3.02 and the customer pays with a $5 but doesn’t have two pennies, don’t soften up and hand them $2, give the customer the $1.98 they are owed.
Act Helpless – Inform whoever it is who is attempting to put you at risk that there is absolutely nothing you can do. If a customer like the one in the example above pleads with you and tries to make you use your common sense over the rules you have to follow, tell them that you could lose your job. If they still don’t understand, simply shake your head and tell them that you can’t help them.
Console – You may feel bad about following the rules when your conscience tells you otherwise. After a few years of having to deal with the people that become upset at the formalities you present them, you will have built up enough of a general contempt for all people that any feelings of remorse will go away. Until then, apologize to the customer, and try to make them think that you actually care about their problem. Use a consoling voice, and try to end the conversation.
Embrace the Formality – If all else fails, show them the rules yourself. If that is not enough, start following the code for removing problem customers. The minute a customer begins to put your job at risk, they are no longer a person, they are a problem. Call your manager or the security guard to assist you with helping the upset customer out the door.
The F.A.C.E. system is a simple way to rid yourself of problem customers without becoming emotionally involved or being sympathetic to even the most obvious times when using common sense would be appropriate. So long as you follow your company’s rules, and our F.A.C.E. system, you’ll have the upper hand in all disputes with problem customers, reguardless of what your inner voice is screaming at you from the inside.