How “Policy” Destroys Brand Loyalty

Policy can kill your brand – Policy is a bad word. Customers hate hearing the words, “Our policy is…” and even worse, employees love to use it as a crutch. One of the biggest contributors to the Customer service crisis is management’s paranoia that Customers are out to take advantage of them. This leads to a significant amount of time that companies spend on creating and enforcing policy versus creating positive Customer experiences. Generally employees want to do what they are taught, and many times do not do a good job of understanding when exceptions should apply. For instance, front-line employees take the word ‘policy’ literally. That is why I always replace it with the word ‘guideline.’

Related: Only two weeks left to be part of the Customer Service Revolution

No money back on consumed coffee – A manager of an auto repair shop enforced a company policy that doesn’t allow Customers money back on coffee that has been partially consumed. It turned into an argument where the police where eventually called. By the way, the Customer had already spent over $800 in repairs. The ‘policy’ is they don’t return half-consumed beverages (see past eService Fight for $3 only to lose $800)

Restaurant charges person for using restroom – A restaurant in Houston, Texas, area has a sign posted in the bathrooms that says there is a $5 charge for non-Customers who use their restrooms. This same restaurant sent a woman a bill for $5.00 for using the restroom (see past eService Restaurant sends consumer an invoice for restroom visit).

That’s the Spirit – Spirit Airline officials said a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran and former Marine could not get his $197 back since he was offered the opportunity, and should have bought insurance. Even though the man had just learned he had esophageal cancer that was terminal, and was told by his doctor not to fly (see past eService Worst of a bad bunch).

CEO says ‘stupid’ Customers deserve to pay penalty fees – Michael O’Leary, head of Ryanair, called his Customers “idiots.” He was speaking specifically about fliers who fail to print their boarding passes before they arrive at the airport and are therefore forced to pay Ryanair’s $60 fee (see past eService Stupidity Fee).

Can’t return open makeup – This actually happened at one of my salons, John Robert’s Spa. A guest spent over $200 on makeup; however, when she got home and tried it on, she had an allergic reaction. Initially one of our good managers wouldn’t let her return the makeup because our “policy” was that we didn’t allow returns on open makeup. It was at that moment I removed the word “policy” from our vocabulary and replaced it with the word ‘guideline’ (see past eService Policy is Bad).

Related: Is Zappos really that good at good at Customer service?

Restaurant refuses to allow boy to call 9-1-1 – A restaurant, which has a policy that Customers cannot use their phone, wouldn’t allow a young boy having an asthma attack to call 9-1-1 (see past eService Restaurant refuses to allow boy to call 9-1-1).

Store charges Customers a “just looking” fee – A store has had it with Customers walking around the store without buying anything and implemented a $5.00 “just looking fee” (see past eService Just Looking Fee).

Sheer madness – When women came and tried to return yoga pants that were too-sheer, Lululemon sales associates asked Customers to put on the pants and bend over so they could assess them before a return was permitted (see past eService Asking your Customers to bend over.)

Proof of Dead Cat – Policy makes employees do stupid things. An apartment management company asked a resident to show proof that their cat had died before they would remove the cat from their lease (see past eService Proof of Dead Cat).

Cannot cancel service without answering my questions –
A Comcast Customer service representative makes it almost impossible for a Customer to cancel his cable service. Comcast trains their Retention Specialists to make the cancellation process very difficult and their pay is based on the amount of business they save by discouraging Customers not to cancel (see eService Cable company rep bullys Customer trying to cancel).

Remove the word ‘Policy’ from your company’s vocabulary – Change it to guidelines. Don’t punish 98% of your Customers for what you are afraid 2% will try to get away with.

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.