Although Canada’s polymer bills are a lot harder to counterfeit than the old currency, it can be done.
You’ve trained your employees on how to recognize counterfeit bills, so you’re pretty confident they’ll catch any that show up. But what will they do next? How they reject the bill is just as important as recognizing it in the first place. Doing it wrong could cost you a customer. Here are some tips on the right way to handle a sticky situation:
Assume the Customer Is Innocent
It’s important for cashiers and other employees who handle cash to understand that, in many cases, the customer has no idea the bill is counterfeit. An employee who doesn’t understand this is likely to respond in an accusatory manner. Even if the words are polite, tone of voice, facial expression, and body language will be a dead giveaway that the cashier thinks the customer is a crook. It’s absolutely essential to teach your employees to think of a customer who passes a counterfeit bill as a victim, not a thief.
Try Not to Embarrass the Customer
Once you assume innocence, it’s a lot easier to realize that the customer may become very embarrassed, especially if there’s a line of people waiting behind him. Teach your employees to be as discreet as possible:
Speak in a low voice.
Alert a manager to open another checkout line, if possible. This will get any waiting customers on their way more quickly, and it will help keep the customer with the counterfeit bill from feeling like he’s in a very uncomfortable spotlight.
Offer the customer the chance to resolve the situation quickly by using a different method of payment, whether another bill, a check or a credit/debit card.
Empathize with the Customer
Realize that the customer is almost certainly out the dollar amount of the bill. It’s important to keep this in mind if the customer becomes upset. Anger doesn’t necessarily mean the customer is guilty; it probably just means he’s realizing he’s out $50 he couldn’t afford to lose. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck, so finding out the money they were counting on is counterfeit can be a big blow. With that in mind, teach your cashiers to respond with empathy. Good phrases include things like:
“I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
“Anything you can tell the police about where you got this bill can help them track down the people who made it.”
“I can understand why you’re upset that your money is counterfeit. I would be, too.”
“I can tell this is going to cause some problems for you. I know it would for me.”
Be a Resource
The customer is, in all likelihood, embarrassed, angry and, if he was already short on cash, maybe a little panicky. Teach your cashiers to do what they can to help him think things through.
Suggest other forms of payment. Ask if the customer has a check or credit card he can pay with. If not, tell him about the closest ATM and offer to hold the items at the register until he gets back.
If the customer doesn’t have enough money to pay for things, help him figure out which items he can get with the money he has.
If the customer just wants to leave, tell him you’ll take care of putting the items back.
Remind him that he’s the victim of a crime, and offer to get in touch with the police for him.
Your employees are on the front line when it comes to keeping counterfeit bills out of your registers, and telling a customer his money is counterfeit can be intimidating. If they’re scared to confront customers, they probably won’t even thoroughly check the money they’re given, which means your business could wind up taking the hit.
That’s why giving your employees the right tools is worth the investment. Teaching them how to see things from the customer’s perspective will go a long way toward reducing their anxiety. You can also back them up with technology. Counterfeit detectors take the pressure off of the cashier by letting them blame the machine: “I’m really sorry, but the machine thinks it’s counterfeit and won’t let me take it.”
Between training and cash automation technology, your cashiers will have both the confidence and the tools to keep out counterfeit money while strengthening the customer relationship.