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February 2014
NO, I Can't. It's Our Policy!
Two recent events brought back scary memories. Scary because in one instance I came soooo close to doing physical bodily harm to a customer service representative.
I won't go into the gory details but it should be sufficient to say that I heard those words no customer should ever hear: " I can't help you. Our store policy won't let us do that." In my mind, I slapped her for being so ignorant of what customers need and deserve.
But then I remembered that she was only following orders - again, anti-customer orders but orders from on high none the less. Let me state right now that policies should be guidelines not biblical commandments that promise fire and damnation if tweaked or ignored in the goal of building customer loyalty.
I am fortunate to be currently working with a great client that asked for my assistance in developing internal operational policies and external customer facing policies. When the President and I sat down to talk about her goals in creating the policies I learned again why this is a great company - she said her goals are:
  • to insure the customer receives consistent service regardless of the customer service representative
  • to act as a guide for how I want the reps to behave in specific situations
  • to empower the reps to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy
Now that's a company leader who gets it! Who understands that policies should further customer loyalty not destroy it. This President knows that you can't allow reps to hide behind a policy instead of working to find the right solution.
We began our work on policies by addressing their return policy. Return policies are usually designed to make it difficult for the customer and they often place the onerous on the customer to prove why their money should be returned or the product replaced. After all, you the customer, probably did something to break the product!
My enlightened client wanted the return policy to have a simple, direct message: if you're not happy - we'll make you happy!
This sentiment should be practiced at Best Buy, who's refusal to accept a broken TV for a return was chronicled in the Globe recently. I'll bet you have a horror story about returns that would make a pacificist take up arms!
The obvious lesson here is that in big and small ways your company via policies and processes, sends messages to customers that either create loyal customers who use social media to sings your praises or create vengeful customers who will take to social media with glee just to trash you.
The next time you review, rewrite or write a new policy or process, examine the consequences from the customer's point of view and if there's even the slightest chance the customer will be unhappy or inconvenienced -start over!
Want to be sure your policies and processes are working for you and not against you, call Catalytic Management's experts and we'll take a fresh customer focused look!
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