Sunday, August 19, 2012

Volunteering Incident

Today when volunteering at the hospital gift shop, there was an unhappy incident which I thought I should reflect on.

Having only one short training session and three shifts volunteering at the hospital so far, I am still not very familiar with using the lottery terminal. Of course, I can do basic transactions such as selling and redeeming tickets, but there are still certain scenarios that I am no very sure how to deal with. For example, what should the retailer do if the customer wants to redeem tickets plus buying tickets using the selection slips? This problem was the cause of the unhappy incident today.

But before I talk about this, I want to talk about an earlier incident that would fuel the unhappy incident. So an old lady came in, holding three tickets. She handed me one ticket, saying that she wanted to redeem that ticket. Then, she gave me the other two tickets, and said "I want to replay these tickets." Given these instructions, I cashed in the first ticket, and then re-printed the other two tickets for her. However, angrily, she said that she wanted to replay the winning ticket too, with encore. A bit surprised at her angry tone, I went to terminal screen, scanned the winning ticket again, and then confirmed with her that she wanted one encore. Now a bit more furious, she restated "with encore." Luckily, a customer behind— let's call him Customer A—explained to her that one could have multiple encores, so all the confusion got cleared, and the remaining transaction went smoothly.

Next, there was another customer who wanted to both redeem a winning ticket and buy tickets using selection slips. So I redeemed the winning ticket and then fed the selection slips into the terminal machine. Perhaps because I hadn't click "no" to replaying the winning ticket before feeding in the selection slip, three unrelated tickets came out. However, I didn't notice it at the time, and just gave those tickets to the customer and charged him accordingly. He didn't notice at the time either.

Then, a minute later when I was dealing with Customer A, the last customer came back. He had noticed that he didn't get what he wanted. So he asked me if I could print him another ticket, and I said sure and did what he asked.

Now, back to Customer A. He had the exact requests as the last customer— he wanted to redeem a winning ticket and then buy more tickets using the selection slips that he has printed. This time, unfortunately, I made the same mistake as last time and printed out three unrelated ticket for him. He was then very unhappy— he expressed it by saying that I should listen more carefully to want the customer wants— and told me that he didn't want the three extra tickets and wanted only the ticket from his selection slip.

I went back to the lottery terminal and proceeded to cancel the three tickets, but by this time he became very angry: he had wanted me to print his original ticket first, and then deal with the three tickets after the transaction was done. (Oh I forgot to mention that he was an immigrant too, so we had slight troubles communicating in English). He began to explain to me that I should listen carefully to what the customer wants, do things more slowly, and other things along those lines. He mentioned that he had witnessed several occasions in which I didn't pay close attention to the customer's request.

Obviously, one could never be cheerful after being reprimanded, and I felt very bad even after Customer A had left. Fortunately, after about ten minutes, a lady came in and she won twenty dollars. She was so happy that her happiness leaked into me and made me feel a lot better.

Anyway, I had wanted to write this post to reflect on what Customer A told me. I believe that he said those things partly because of some misunderstanding on his part. But in any case, his words are true and I should really keep them in my mind

In the past, I have wanted to be efficient and in turn became disorganized. For example, when a customer doesn't give exact change, I often just keep their money in my hand (instead of putting it into the cash register) so that I can give back their change as quick as possible. But this obviously isn't good practice, because I can easily run into trouble if there are multiple customers in a row. So like he suggests, I should just do things slower, and do everything right.

As for listening to customer's requests more carefully, perhaps in the future I should reiterate what they want (I do that already, but not all the time), to make sure that there's no misunderstanding of any sort (e.g., the old lady and her replays). This applies to other areas in life too, where if I ask others questions, I should reiterate their response to make sure that I have truly understood what they mean.

As bad as I felt at the time of the incident, I am now glad that it happened. It served as an important lesson to me, and gave me a chance to practice how I might react in a difficult situation.

Note: I may be an unreliable narrator for this post... I try to be as truthful as possible, but things were so hectic at that time that I was kind of overwhelmed...