It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait – 3/12/24

Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax payment, had been standing there for 5 minutes, and the line had not hardly moved.

The supervisor, Janice, came out of her office, saw the customer, and listened to him from a distance for about 10 seconds. Janice turned to Robert and said:  It’s not about the 5-minute wait.

Robert and Janice walked up to the customer to speak with him, and they took the customer to the side, away from the rest of the group. They chatted with him about his situation, and Janice was right.

The customer had to be at work in 15 minutes, and he was a 15-minute drive from his job. He was going to be late.

His mapping app on his phone had directed him to the right building, but the parking spaces were full. So, he had to find another parking area – which was a block away.  That took five more minutes of driving and a 6-7 minute walk to get to the building.

The man lived 20 minutes from this building, so, he had left his home a long time ago to get to this location on time, to make his payment on time, and to get to his job on time.

He actually had to make the payment in person, because the County’s web payment portal was down, and the payment was due today.

Robert just assumed it was an impatient customer raising a ruckus.  Janice didn’t make any assumptions, and – after witnessing the customer from afar for a few seconds – she was pretty sure something else was going on.

When a customer is making a big deal about something that doesn’t seem so big, consider that maybe it’s not about the 5-minute wait.  Show a willingness to ask, listen, and learn.

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Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week

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