Company Policy Results in Customer’s Death

Company crutch – By now you know my stance on company policy. They are an old paradigm and Customer’s biggest point of frustration. Management creates policies to punish 98% of Customers for what 2% may try to get away with.

When company policy went too far – You are not going to believe what you are about to read. A registered nurse from a senior living center calls 911 and tells the operator that one of their residents is lying on the ground and not breathing. The operator dispatches an ambulance, but tells the nurse to perform CPR. The nurse says it is against company policy. The operator warns her that the person will die if she doesn’t do CPR or find someone-anyone-who will. The nurse refuses to, and just keeps saying, “I am not allowed.” The person dies. You have to listen to this call! RN refuses to give CPR.

Who’s to blame? Would you want your loved ones living there? Employees end up using policy as a crutch, and it removes common sense and better judgment. It is not the employees’ fault; it is management’s fault for creating the policy and instilling fear in employees if they don’t follow it.

Airline breaks policy! This is the second eService in a row that I am using a best practice from the airline industry. I am really not running out of material. This is just a great story. Recently a flight arrived late, which is not uncommon. What was uncommon was what a United Airline flight attendant did. The employee recognized a passenger visibly upset, proceeded to find out that the Customer was about to miss a connecting flight, that would have gotten him home to see his mother before she died. The flight attendant, with the help of other employees at United, delayed that passenger’s connecting flight and the passenger was able to make the connection and see his mother in time. Check it out: United Airlines delays flight for man to see dying mother.

Charitable Assumption – Companies are so worried that if they make an exception for one Customer, every Customer will expect the same thing. All the world-class Customer-service companies have zero risk policies, i.e. Nordstrom and Zappos have no return policy. Return your purchase whenever, no questions asked. The traditional management mindset protests, “They can’t do that! Customers will use their product and when they are tired of it, they will bring it back.” Nope! World-class companies have “charitable assumption,” which is trusting and giving the benefit of the doubt to their Customers.

Free drinks for everyone – One of the most overused Customer service examples comes from Southwest Airlines. Well, here is another one. I recently was on a Southwest flight and the flight attendant was coming down the isle with the beverage cart. Three rows ahead of me a woman ordered a mixed drink. The flight attendant asked for $5.00, the Customer handed him a $5.00 bill. He says, “I am sorry, we no longer accept cash, only credit cards.” She says, “I don’t have any credit cards on me.” He replied, loud enough that I can hear him three rows back, “That’s ok, this one’s on me.” Of course you can guess what the passenger directly behind him said, right? (“I only have cash, too!”) No! The passenger behind ordered a mixed drink as well, gave the flight attendant his credit card and said, “I will pay for her drink as well.” Could that be one of the reasons why Southwest has been the most profitable airline in the US for over 30 years?


Your company is either creating brand evangelists, or brand terrorists doing brand assassination.

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.