Archive for June, 2008

The Death of “That Isn’t Our Policy”

Do you remember the days when you wanted special attention and you got this response: “That isn’t our policy.”? I used to get it all the time. I would ask for customer service and that is the service I would receive. I would ask for a replacement part for my lawn mower and that is the part I would get. I would ask for an upgrade when they gave my room away to another guest at the hotel and that is the accomodation I wound up with. My airline lost my luggage in my own home town last month. I asked if they could send it to my home when they found it and the lady said, “We are not responsible.” (By the way, when I asked her the company slogan, she couldn’t remember it. It is: “Where do you want to go?”) There is something really wrong when employees know how to beg off helping you with the same line every time, but don’t know the company slogan. It got so bad that my friend Tim Gard wrote his own policy manual to deal with organizations who quoted their manual to him, instead of giving good service.

Then something happened. The internet; blogging; the long tail, etc. Businesses realized that every consumer has access to a computer and a blog page. Seth Godin tells of the food critic for The Globe and Mail in Toronto (Canada’s superb version of USA Today). Joanne has carry a credit card with someone else’s name on it so she won’t be discovered in restaurants and get special treatment. It doesn’t matter anymore now that everyone has access to the internet. Everyone is Joanne now. You give someone bad service and it is on a blog or the internet in minutes being read by more people than read The Globe and Mail and USA Today combined. Everyone is a critic with a larger audience than all critics have ever had.

I was talking with a group of bankers about their customer service needs a month ago. One of the executives told me he needed customer service training for his employees. “Why?” I asked. “Because some of my people are insulting my best customers,” he responded. “You need leadership training,” I said. “Why?” he asked me. “I just had leadership training,” he said, rather frustrated. “Look,” I asked, “Are you paying these people who are insulting your customers?” “Sure.” He said. “Well if you are paying people who are insulting your customers, THEY aren’t the problem,” I told him. Are you paying people who are driving your customers away? Are your people more versed in saying “That isn’t our policy,” or “We are not responsible,” more than they know the company slogan? More on The Death of “That isn’t our policy.” in future blurbs.

Do you need leadership training instead of another “Customer Service Seminar” that doesn’t address the root problem?

Give The Mathis Group a call: 1-888-688-0220

“Your call is important to us.”

Yeah, right. I was on hold with a computer company whose name rhymes with “Bell” for 55 minutes last week. I had to listen to repeated messages every 2 minutes that my call was important to them and someone would be with me shortly. So if my call and business is so important then why don’t you hire people to answer your phones? If this many people are on hold, you can’t be hurting for business…or maybe your service is as incompetent as your telephone system and I am waiting behind a large group of dissatisfied customers who all want their money back.

Some companies have a system that tells you how far down the line you are waiting. Some take your number electronically and call you back, allowing you to hang up and go about other business.

I was in the local post office this week and only two people were working the counter at the busiest hour of the day: Noon-1PM. Everyone (no exaggeration here) complained including the two employees. Finally a supervisor came out to say she couldn’t do anything about the line and her hands were tied. One customer suggested she untie her hands and help out at the counter. She laughed at the people, shook her head, threw her untied hands up and went back to her office.

One day employees will learn in training that complaining to the customers drives business off, not in – business that gets them paid. One day, companies, corporations, organizations will learn that you if treat people like cattle in a bad economy, you won’t survive long enough in your business to experience a good economy. Why not today?

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June 2008


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