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Coping With Change December 22, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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In days gone by, cashiers gave change by counting up.  Starting from the purchase amount, you received pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters until a whole dollar amount was reached.  You then got ones, fives, tens, and twenties to complete your change.  Cashiers invariably counted as they disbursed the money, so you could check to make sure it was correct.  In the end, you had change in your hand, topped by bills, in order.  You could hold on to the change while you put the bills away, and then put the change in your pocket or purse.  Simple, straightforward, easy.

Not anymore.  Having eliminated basic math from the skill set of modern cashiers, the register point-of-sale terminal now computes the change, leaving the cashier to withdraw that much money from the drawer and dump it in your hand.  You get handed bills first, followed by a pile of change, followed by the receipt, followed by the bag.  This clumsy arrangement is impossible to deal with easily.  You wind up letting go of the bag, dumping the change in your free hand, shuffling the bills, and then putting away the change.  To make things worse, the cashier instantly begins handling the next customer’s purchases, giving you the bum’s rush while you fumble with a wad of paper and coins.

One solution is to dump the whole mess on the counter and sort it out, annoying everyone in line.  A better solution would involve the cashier being trained to give you the change in a way that makes it easy for you, not easy for the cashier.

So much of everything we do involves working with our customers in ways that make sense to them and help them be productive.  From complicated user interfaces to the simple act of making change, every customer interaction counts.  Worst of all, the annoyance of getting your change dumped in your hand is your last experience as you exit the store, leaving you with a bad experience to savor as you walk to your car.  What a great way to encourage customers to return!

How do your systems stack up?  Do you give customers change in ways that make it easy to work with you?  Or do you leave them annoyed and irritated as they walk out your door?


1. Linda - December 22, 2008

Great metaphor for the bigger customer experience, and oh, oh, oh how I resonate with that change-into-my-hand disaster. Seems like NO ONE knows to put the change in first then the bills on top. Plus while you are dealing with that, the bagger is putting the bananas on the bottom of the bag with your canned goods on top. Talk about the fundamentals! Thanks for a good post.

2. Jeremy - December 25, 2008

Who still pays with cash? j/k. As Linda said, good metaphor.

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