It’s Company Policy

Every time a customer service representative has to utter the words “it’s company policy” sirens and bells should go off in the CEO’s office. The reason – most company policies are dumb. They may not be dumb when it comes to saving money or treating customers like they are out to get you, but they are dumb when it comes to building a positive relationship with customers.

I am a big fan of general company policies. Policies that let people break rules instead of having to follow hundreds of little rules and enforce even more dumb policies. It is pretty much impossible to have a policy that will work in all situations. There will always be a gray area and chances are, there will always be a customer or employee that the policy inconveniences or annoys.

Nordstrom has “use your best judgment.” The Geek Squad has “protect our reputation.” Policies like that give representatives the ability to make a call based on the current situation. They can be added on top of regular company policies – as in you can have your normal rules, but you can also give people the freedom to break them if necessary.

I’m not sure about at Nordstrom, but at the Geek Squad, if you break a rule, that is fine, but you do have to tell the company. That way, they knew which rule you broke and why. If the company notices a lot of people are breaking the same rule, then chances are it is a problem with the rule and not the people.

That policy shows open mindedness and general trust. Both are important to keep in mind when you create policies and procedures. If you don’t think your employees are capable of making a good decision, then don’t hire them. If you have policies that outline every single thing your employees should do (including when they are allowed to breath), you’re undermining them. Employees don’t like ot feel like robots.

When you have a whole host of stupid policies, you are also undermining your customers. Customers get sick of being treated like criminals and/or idiots. You want to trust your customers as well. Chances are, they don’t want to rip you off and your policy could be stopping them from having a pleasant experience.

Seth Godin has a great post on giving (and receiving) the benefit of the doubt. Also, check out my post saying to work for the 99%, not the 1%.

3 Responses to “It’s Company Policy”

  1. Ankit said:

    Sep 01, 07 at 10:37 pm

    I was going to say that it’s hard to trust people with something like this so that they can do what it takes to maintain a solid reputation, but look at Taco Bell – if you get the wrong taco, or you have an issue with one, they let you keep it, and get you another one right away, and they apologize.

    Allowing people to make a smart choice puts trust in both sides – the employees and the employer. They know they are being allowed to be a unique individual, and not just someone who memorized the company policies. Plus, it feels good to see someone walk away happy even after an issue.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Sep 01, 07 at 10:49 pm

    Definitely. Companies that have fairly open ended policies like Nordstrom or Geek Squad are rather progressive. Most companies don’t have that trust, but I think it is something that more and more companies that care are getting.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Service Untitled » You thought they couldn’t get dumber. - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Jan 21, 08 at 7:58 pm

    […] The reason this was a dumb moment was because Apple took a standard policy and overdid it. I’ve talked about the importance of flexible company policies before (and so have others). When company policies are not flexible, they will eventually backfire. […]