What Double-Checking really means

About a month ago, I organized an event for work, which required me to work with a vendor. Days before the event, I spoke with the owner and gave all the information needed – location and address of the venue, where to park, dress code, identification required, and where to set up the equipment. He confirmed everything and gave me the names of the staff I should expect to see on the morning of the event.

The day came and as early as 7am, I received an SMS from his staff asking where the venue is nearby. I texted the owner and said, “your staff is asking me information I already gave you. Handle it please.” After about half an hour, the venue coordinator called and said the vendor was asking her something technical she could not decide on.

I called the owner and said, why is your staff asking the venue coordinator things they would not know of? I reminded him that I gave him all the information he needed, nothing more, nothing less. And I still had a million things to do. He apologized for the confusion and said he will talk to his team.

He called back and told me confidently, “my boys are just DOUBLE-CHECKING to make sure everything is correctly set up.” I replied – “No, they were not double checking. They were asking things that they shouldn’t be asking in the first place if they had the information we discussed previously. I’m trying to be efficient about this set-up and I got you as the vendor because you are the expert in what you do, not me, not the venue coordinator.” He was silent for a moment then replied, “Ok so I will tell my boys to not double-check with you anymore.”

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Breathe In. Breathe Out. I realized that morning, how people grossly abused the term, DOUBLE-CHECK.

According to Merriam-Webster, to Double-check means to check (something) again in order to be certain.

Last evening, the restaurant staff handed me my bill and said, “Kindly double check”. My left brain asked my right brain – ‘how can I double-check if I’m only about to check the bill now?’

Why do we say ‘double-check’, when what we mean is to simply ‘check’? Does it make us look more hardworking when we say ‘double-check’? Using it in a customer service context makes it worse, in my opinion. To say you will double-check does not give any more assurance to the customer when you are trying to solve his or her problem. The last time I called my telecom provider to ask some irregularity in my bill. Immediately, the agent said, “let me double-check”. My soul screamed silently –‘What is there to double-check when you’re about to check it for the first time now?’

In customer service, language is very important. Words used must be precise and deliberate because they strike a cord in your customers’ emotions, especially in customer recovery situations. Say ‘double-check’ when you are going to verify something again. It could even be a cross-check done by another personnel. In replying to your customer, there’s nothing wrong in saying, “Let me check on this now…”

There’s this charming little book I picked up in India many years ago called “The Ice Cream Maker” by Subir Chowdhury. I learned about the principle of “getting it right the first time” and the value this mindset for quality brings to an entire organization.

If we aim to get things right the first time, then that’s real efficiency and there won’t be a need to double-check or triple-check, right?

Image source: jaywalkingbackwards

 

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