Two Pennies

Many years ago I observed an interaction where an irate customer was telling a government employee that he paid his salary and he demanded he get what he wanted. The government employee listened quietly and then reached into his pocket and pulled out two pennies. He slid the pennies across the counter and told the customer that was his refund and then the employee walked away.

Both parties were obviously frustrated and both were wrong. How would you begin to infuse high quality customer service into an organization that has a captive market and in some cases is required to tell their customers “no”?

High quality customer service in government is darn difficult, and I’m here to help where I can. If you overhear a conversation, or see something like the story above, or you’ve said something you wished you would have said differently but weren’t sure how – ask. Post your story and I’ll reply.

Oh, getting back to the story above, here’s a re-write so you can see the right way to have handled that situation:

Many years ago I observed an interaction where an irate customer was telling a government employee that he paid his salary and he demanded he get what he wanted. The government employee listened quietly and then said “Thank You. You are right, many government employees are paid at least partially with tax dollars. We are here to assist our customers and find solutions that will work for everyone. How would you like to see this situation taken care of?”

At that point the customer would cool off a little. (You can’t fight by yourself!) And the employee could start to focus on how to solve the problem.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!

Wendi

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

I think the key here is saying “You are right.” Whenever a customer service representative says that to me, especially when I am obviously perturbed, it throws me off guard and I definitely relax a bit. They are showing respect for me…and I feel encouraged to respond in kind. Those three words make a world of difference.

Profile Photo Stephen Peteritas

I know that the 2 pennies wasn’t the right response but if you’re going to do the wrong thing at least do it with style and that employee nailed it in this specific circumstance.

With that said I look forward to your blog Wendi!

Profile Photo Allen Sheaprd

Thanks,

While I agree the two cents was a bad move it underscores how little each citizen pays per employee. For me it works out to 3.67 cents.

Using that number each citizen gets *alot* of service from me – and every other city worker.

At the federal level those making $100 a year are paid 2.8571 x 10^-4 or 0.0002857 cents per person.