When I think about company policies, the first word that comes to mind is law.
Sometimes company policies are more like “law” than they are policies. Even the words company policy can bring about feelings of fear, discomfort, and anxiety for some employees.
I remember the first time I broke a company policy—I was terrified. Even though in my heart I knew that the decision I made created a better customer experience, I was convinced that I would be fired on the spot.
Many company policies are structured to protect the company from the customer instead of helping improve the customer experience and getting the customer what he wants. Employees feel like they have to “enforce the law.”
Should breaking company policy at work bring about the same feelings as running a red light and being pulled over by an armed police officer?
CRM Best Practice: Balancing Company Policy with Building Customer Relationships
Great CRM means more than simply deploying a robust customer relationship management system. It’s about advocating a better customer relationships management model based on balancing adherence to corporate policy with more intuitive factors. For example, knowing when it is okay to break the “policy law” like a Southwest pilot did to help a man see his dying grandson.
Mark Dickinson was in Los Angeles on a business trip when he learned that his 2 year old grandson was lying in a Denver hospital, brain dead and about to be taken off life support. When Dickinson arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport he was faced with a slow-moving security line. He pleaded with airport security, but the airport workers weren’t buying his story and refused to let him jump to the front of the line. Imagine that? He didn’t know when the next flight would be and he resigned himself to the fact that he missed it.
According to his story, he called his wife Nancy back home in Arizona for help and she called Southwest Airlines customer service to plead Mark’s case and beg them to hold the plane until Mark could get there. By the time he made it through the security checkpoint, his departure time had already passed. He grabbed his belongings and ran for the gate in his socks, convinced he’d never make his connecting flight. You can imagine the shock when he arrived at the gate and the plane was still there. He looked over by the Jetway and there stood the pilot. He asked, “Are you Mark?” Pilots rarely hold planes, because they have to stay on schedule. But this day was different. What was important to Mark Dickinson became important to this pilot.
Dickinson made it to Denver in time to comfort his daughter before his grandson was removed from life support. Southwest Airlines released a statement that said, “We empower our employees to make decisions on behalf of our customers…While we can’t wait for every late customer, we knew he had an extreme family emergency and the pilot specifically decided to wait.”
Do your management policies empower your employees to create amazing customer experiences for prospects and residents? Or do your company policies form customer relationship barriers?
Here are four ways to bust through customer relationship barriers, improve the customer experience, and better manage customer relationships: