Customer Experience News & Trends

Stupid rules that kill the customer experience – and how to get rid of them

There’s a hidden danger inside your company walls – and it’s killing the customer experience. 

Stupid rules.

You might not recognize restrictions, policies and rules as stupid. But customers find many of them restrictive, unfriendly and reasons to sever ties.

The worst part is most employees think there are a lot of rules that get in their way of doing a good job for customers.

According to Gallup research, just 13% of employees in the U.S. say, In my company, we always look for the simplest way to get the job done.

What customers hate

“Companies that build complications into their processes inadvertently create speed bumps for themselves because those processes usually up the number of decisions that have to be made,” Gallup researcher Marco Nink said. “And the more decisions, the longer it takes to fulfill a customer’s need.”

Some of the most offending kind of rules that hurt the customer experience:

  • The approval loop. The more approvals employees need to make things happen, the more complicated and time-consuming the customer experience becomes.
  • Policies and protocols. Rigid guidelines on how a job should be done stifles creativity and becomes the difference between a great and sub-par experience. Unless a process exists because it ensures safety, it will hurt the experience.
  • Penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions. Rules that are in place to avoid spending and compensation for customers (such as strict return and replacement guidelines) routinely disappoint. Skimping on the quality of customer service will always affect the experience negatively.

7 keys to improvement

They key behind getting rid of stupid rules is to figure out what’s really important and what’s not.

Gallup suggests a close review to find processes, policies and rules that are relics of outdated strategies and times – ones that were designed to prevent minor problems, one-time issues or even personal or corporate egos.

Bottom line: “Evaluate processes, policies and rules with the customer in mind,” Nink said. “A tight focus on the customer makes it easier to root out extra steps and make processes lean.”

To become as lean, customer-focused and stupid-rule-free as possible, consider these factors:

  • Cooperation. The first step is to get cooperation from all departments and powers-that-be involved in the customer experience to identify the need for change.
  • Speed of decision-making. A core factor in making changes – almost as important as “customer-focus” – needs to be making decisions faster. Every step that can be eliminated should be.
  • Trial tolerance. Decisions on how long you’ll test the changes, how many mistakes in the process will be acceptable and when the changes will be fully implemented need to be made early in the process.
  • Empowerment. Employees need more training to handle increased responsibility.
  • Technology adoption. If new technology is necessary, training must be done and the crutch of old technology needs to be eliminated.
  • Simplicity. Less is best as far as protocols, processes, approvals (everything customers see as stupid).
  • Knowledge sharing. If customer data and change knowledge isn’t shared, silos will reform and the newly created, clean processes will diminish.
  • Innovation focus. This is an evolving, never one-time, process. Rules, policies and protocols need to be under the microscope year-round to elevate the customer experience.

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