Customer Experience News & Trends

4 dumb rules that hurt the customer experience

Here’s a fast way to improve the customer experience. Break the following rules!

Understandably, some rules, policies and procedures keep customers and employees safe.

Unfortunately, more rules muddy the customer experience. Those are the kind that need to be tossed or overhauled.

Dumb rules don’t just leave a bad impression on customers. They also cost private companies about $155 billion a year between the resources, and time managers and employees must devote to complying with them, a Deloitte Access Economics study found.

But there’s good news: It should be easy to dump the dumb rules because — they probably aren’t yours. Most rules and practices that unnecessarily prolong the experience were created ages ago. They made sense then, but likely don’t any more because your processes, systems, customers, employees, etc. have changed. Drastically.

Now, those rules just get in the way of efficient, satisfying customer experiences.

What to dump

Here are some of the dumbest rules you’ll want to consider dumping or, at least, revamping to fit current conditions:

  1. The customer is always right. You’d think that a rule like this works in the customers’ favor. But assuming every customer is right all the time is a disservice to them. It’s better to follow this similar rule: The customer is always the customer. Treat them fairly and with respect. Politely disagree, when necessary, and say, “Let’s look at this from a different angle …” or “To be sure we’re clear, let’s review …”
  2. Get approval on X. When front-line employees have to get approval to do something out of the ordinary for customers, it delays the experience and often doesn’t end in customers’ favor. The better bet is to train front-line employees to understand situations and how their decisions to help customers affect business and loyalty.
  3. Follow an exact protocol. Rigid guidelines on how a job should be done stifle creativity. In customer service, creative solutions can be the difference between a great and sub-par experience. Unless a process exists because it ensures safety, employees can likely keep customers happier if they have some wiggle room when getting the job done.
  4.  Keep expenses low. Sure, you don’t want to give away the farm to keep customers loyal. But skimping on the quality of customer service will affect the experience. Employees need ways to compensate customers when things go wrong, and they want to ensure they’ll stay loyal.

How to dump them

Of course, identifying and getting rid of stupid rules is often easier said than done. But you have options. Here’s how some companies have eliminated stupid rules and improved the customer experience:

  1. Reward it. At TD Bank, employees participate in the “Kill a Stupid Rule” program. Anyone who spots a rule that keeps employees from delighting customers gets a $50 reward, which has helped streamline processes, according to leaders.
  2. Question everything. At DigiCert Inc., teams regularly review and evaluate tasks, functions and assignments. In one case, they spotted some inefficiencies in a process, dropped a few tasks that didn’t seem to matter to customers and cut turnaround time by 50% in nine months.
  3. Build a board. One organization created a Board of Customers to provide insight and feedback on existing rules. Board members could get together virtually and focus on improving policies, procedures and long-time practices.
  4. Make and update the redundant list. Pull together a team of employees from several departments that do a lot of work together. They can regularly list their tasks, processes and procedures to identify anything that’s redundant. If it’s done once somewhere else, it shouldn’t be done twice. Often, it takes more understanding of everyone’s role in the customer experience to identify and eliminate unnecessary work and rules.

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