Posts Tagged ‘overrule’

Rules for the sake of Rules

by Himanshu Jhamb on November 3, 2009

rules sake rules“I am really sorry, sir. It doesn’t matter what you have to say about why you need this specific service because it is against our policy to provide this. I want to save you the time of going over why you need what you need as we simply cannot provide it.”

I was told this at a local Walgreens a few weeks ago.

All I could do was stare confoundedly at the store representative. I mean, what can you, the customer, really do when the provider tells you that they don’t even want to LISTEN TO YOU? You do what I did – stare confoundedly at them.

I have come across so many instances of this that I am led to believe this is no trivial matter or a one-off instance. This is a serious issue plaguing the customer service industry and if you think you are perhaps not impacted by this, well… then you are probably not in the business of making money. The solution to this issue, ironically, comes from within the company itself. All it takes, in most of the cases, is another “more helpful” representative of the company who simply and genuinely wants to “help” the customer. Even if they end up with the same result i.e. not being able to provide what the customer is after, they try and try and try until they exhaust all possible options. They don’t tell the customer that they don’t want to hear them out because they care for the customer’s time. That is, in fact, complete bullshit. All that tells me is that the representative wanted to save HIS/HER time and it surely sounds a lot better if he/she said it was about saving the customer’s time. In my specific case, I simply went to a neighboring branch (of Walgreens, again) and got what I needed from a “more helpful” representative who found a way to help me, without breaking the rule… and he found a way by just spending an extra 10 minutes listening to my problem. Heck! Even if he had not been able to help me after the 10 minute of my cathartic problem-telling, I would’ve still come out a happy customer – a customer that was at least heard out.

The lesson to learn here (for me and perhaps for you) is to consistently question the rules and the rule-enforcers in your organization to ensure the purpose of the rules (i.e. helping your customer) is not being lost in the process of upholding the rules. Here are a few good ones to ask:

  1. Are you or your employees following the rules blindly and in fact, turning customers away OR are they putting some thought into the situation and EXPLORING if there is any way they can help the customer without breaking the rules?
  2. Are you or your employees enforcing the rules with a level of rigidity that is in fact hurting your customers or are you looking to “help” the customer, even if it means you might have to “bend” the rules a little from time to time.
  3. Most important one: Are you turning the customer away with a big fat “NO” the moment you sense a rule might be broken if you help them in the way they need help OR are you at least, starting out with a magnanimous YES and are willing to HEAR THEM OUT!

The next time you remember a RULE, think of why it exists and see if the RULE itself defeats the purpose of why it exists… that’s a sure shot giveaway of a rule that needs to be inspected and perhaps, overruled!