The Curious Case Of Handling The Injured Customer

the hammer

Yesterday, a customer fell in our showroom. I was called in to deal this customer.

You’re probably wondering why HR would deal with an injured customer, and the answer is simple. The answer is… I don’t know why.

I guess that since I deal with injured employees, somehow dealing with injured customers has fallen into my wheelhouse of things-to-do-that-no-one-else-really-knows-how-to-handle. Actually, the more I think about how I handle injured customers, the more I realize I should be the one speaking to them.

Here’s why…

HR Knows How To Conduct Accident Investigations

When I get a call about someone being hurt on the job site, I spring into action. I have my clipboard, my camera is in hand, and I am ready to start interviewing the injured person and any witnesses. I’m gathering facts. And after the facts are gathered, I’m going to shut my office door and write up my findings.

I doubt your CSR is going to be as thorough as you’re going to be when someone is injured.

HR Knows What Information Personal Injury Lawyers Use Against Your Company

The CSR has never sat downtown, in a courtroom, with an injured worker. But you, HR Manager, you have sat through Workers Compensation hearings, and you understand what information you need to get fraudulent claims laughed out of the courtroom.

The injured worker is going to team up with the same ambulance-chasing attorney as the injured customer. Think about it. You’ve already met the attorney from the TV commercial.

HR Understands Health Insurance And Other Medical Stuff 

I am not shy to ask an injured customer if they have health insurance. I ask them where they want to go to seek medical treatment. I tell them to bring me any bills they get for co-pays, deductibles, and prescriptions.

After all, let’s face it, most of your customer injuries are going to be slips, trips, and falls on ice in your parking lots or wet floors in your stores.

Yes, I always tell them to go get checked out by a doctor. And I actually encourage them to be seen at the same urgent care I use for my injured workers. I have a relationship with the nurses and doctors at this urgent care, and I know they will be honest about the severity of the injury.

I also know that urgent cares and doctors offices are going to cost our company way less than visits to the emergency room. And since they will cost so much less, maybe we can just stroke the injured customer a check, and it will never need to be filed as a property insurance claim on our end.

HR Apologizes, But Never Really Admits Fault

HR is super good at gaging if you’re about to sued by someone. Like, super good. We do it all the time with our own employees.

Oh, your back hurts, Mr. Customer? Oh, you don’t have health insurance? Oh, you think we needed to rope off that area where obviously we are doing construction? Oh, you think you might need to call your attorney? Yeah, you’ll probably try to sue us.

In these situations, when your WE-ARE-SO-GETTING-SUED radar is going off, you know what to do. You apologize, but you do not admit to any faults.

For example, say your employee truly didn’t put down a wet floor sign. And someone slipped and fell. I would say this:

I’m so sorry this happened. We just want to make sure you’re okay. Again, I am so sorry. Let me just ask you a few questions, and we’ll take care of any medical bills you’re going to have. Here’s my card. My cell phone number is on there. That’s the best way to reach me. Why don’t you run down to the urgent care across the street. They are really quick, and we would just feel so much better if you got checked out.

See, what I did there? I am truly sorry this happened. I am truly sorry my employee didn’t put down a wet floor sign. I am truly sorry you fell. But I’m not admitting fault on our end.

I am moving the conversation along, and getting the customer on their way to necessary medical treatment. I am also assuring them that we are going to pay for their medical treatment required. This is sort of admitting fault, but not really. I mean, you know you’re on the hook for those medical bills since it happened on your property. So just pony that up right away.

We aren’t going to spend anymore time talking about how we should have had a wet floor sign on display.

HR Can Handle Upset People Gracefully

Think about all the dumb personal injury lawsuits you’ve heard about over the years. I am going to go out on a limb here, but I seriously doubt the HR person ever had a chance to try to shut these lawsuits down.

I know the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit comes to your mind (which they could have settled for much less), but these frivolous lawsuits happen daily. And I don’t think it’s just because people are sue-happy. Some people are sue-happy, some people are just dumb, and some people were just ignored. And when left out there to dry, their anger festered and festered until they were calling the TV commercial attorney.

That’s where HR comes into play. We can handle people in strange situations. It’s what we do all day long. We gauge emotions, we protect our companies, we protect our employees, and we try to keep everyone happy. After all, these are customers, and we need them to be happy, even if they’re bleeding out all over the floor.

So what do you think? Does HR handle injured customers in your organization? If not, who does?

FOT Background Check

Meredith Soleau
Meredith Soleau was supposed to be a famous country singer, but her parents made her go to college and major in something “real.” She graduated with a B.S. in Business from the University of Toledo, and landed a gig as a Human Resources Director at a large car dealership in Ohio. After eight years of HR at a car dealership, she burned out, decided to sell cars herself, and has since launched her agency, where she specializes in finding blue-collar workers. Clearly she has plenty of stories. But the best stories are probably about Meredith, herself. Read them on her personal blog, meredithsoleau.com, where she holds nothing back. Follow Meredith on Twitter. Become her friend on Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Antonia Siemaszko says:

    Could we please stop lumping that McDonalds coffee lawsuit in with “frivolous suits” originally the woman only wanted medical expenses, and they had been warned MANY times before that their coffee was far above industry standards of too hot for consumption. Had their HR handled it the way you advised it would not have become a cause celebre. It was not however a frivolous suit. The woman had major tissue depth burns.

    Reply

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