This is a story about how a silly mistake can take away from your business. Enhance customer experience by eliminating it and putting processes in place that don’t damage what you’ve worked so hard for.
So I don’t know how it actually happened, but my friend Rhonda, who is a HUGE Starbucks junkie convinced me to buy one of their cups so that I can have it refilled the next time I went back to Starbucks. I bought this cup and, as it turns out, I like it a lot. In fact, I fill it more with my own tea than the overpriced stuff you get at Starbucks. And, when I’m on the road and I have it with me, I can pull right up to the drive through and get a refill.
Until one day.
I pull up to the Starbucks, place my order and the guy tells me “We don’t do refills at the drive through.” I was surprised since they’ve been refilling it for months and now, all of a sudden, they won’t? It didn’t make sense. After all, to make my drink they mix it in a completely different container and then POUR it into one of their cups. So all they would have to do is simply make my drink and when I pull in, they just pour it in the cup — what is the problem?
Nothing — it’s a stupid rule.
Stupid Rules are Driving Your Customers Away
You have a hidden saboteur inside your business and it could be driving your customers away. Can you guess what it is? It’s the policies and procedures that you’ve created over time. However, it is in your power to enhance customer experience and out and end to it.
If you’re like most small-business owners, you’ve had your share of mishaps, misunderstandings and SNAFU moments that you vowed would never come back and bite you again. So you created rules around them to enhance customer experience. At least that is what you thought you were doing. Your intentions were good. You wanted to have satisfied customers, you wanted to make sure that nothing would go wrong and you wanted to make sure you didn’t lose money in the process.
Then you trained your employees to make sure they followed these instructions. And that’s a good thing — until it’s not a good thing. As your company grew, these rules got passed down to employees and in an effort to do the right thing, they pass these rules onto YOUR customers. Then the customer gets pissed and they tell two friends and post it on social media (like I just did). This doesn’t do you any favors.
Jeanne Bliss Says “Kill Stupid Rules”
In her book, “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” Jeanne Bliss goes into great detail about how to create a business and processes that are centered around your customer’s experience. In her article “Kill a Stupid Rule” movement at your company, she goes into some detail about why you should take a look at some of your rules from the perspective of your customer.
That’s easier said than done, but what I love about this article is the very specific example she gives from a Power Company in Toronto:
A power company called Enersource in Toronto. Dan Pastoric, who leads customer experience at the company, told me that they are giving people permission to do the right thing and get past stupid rules by asking them this: “Would you do this to your mother?” “If this customer was your mother, would you make the decision to put a utility pole in the middle of her front yard?” By letting people make decisions through the lens of how they would treat their own mom, people think twice and crusade for treating mom right. I think we should have that line be part of decisions with leaders too, don’t you? “Would we do this to our mom?”
Enhance Customer Experience by Eliminating Stupid Rules
Right now you’re thinking “How the hell do I know what rules are stupid?!” I get it. Well, here’s a simple and fun way to not only find and eliminate stupid rules but use the exercise as a way to not only enhance customer experience and get even MORE customers but also to have your existing customers sing your praises.
- ASK your customers to tell you what stupid rules you have. This is an ideal social media campaign or customer engagement program to Build Customer Engagement, which you can run online or offline and that will enhance customer experience. Simply tell your customers about a circumstance where you discovered that you had a stupid rule. Then apologize for having had such a stupid rule all this time. Share your dilemma about not knowing how many more of them are out there and your commitment to eliminating as many of them as you reasonably can and that you need their help to do that.
- Set up a feedback mechanism. Now that you’ve decided to collect their feedback, you’ll need to set up a feedback mechanism to make it happen. You can set up a simple survey using customer experience survey software. You can ask something like this:
- What is one stupid rule that you’d like us to eliminate?
- How did you run across this rule?
- What would you like instead?
- SHARE the feedback with your customers. Yes. You read that right. I’m telling you to share all your stupid rules and what you’ve done instead. This is going to feel like airing your dirty laundry, but it’s really a crazy stealthy PR campaign that proves two things to your customers. First, that you are a human being and a consumer just like them. Second, that you are listening and can laugh at yourself. So definitely,don’t shy away and Deal With Negative Feedback from Customers.
I recently heard a podcast that discussed the difference between an employee and a small business owner. In the examples this marketing expert gave, it was clear that those employees either followed stupid rules because they were more committed to the rules than to providing service to their customers or the employees perceived NOT following the rules as a risk and too much work.
Your job as the business owner is to instill the philosophy of “Do unto our customers as we would to our mother”.