This holiday season I have seen more bad behavior caused by staff following policies and procedures than any other year. I doubt the owners of these companies have any clue that the systems and structure they put in place are actually hurting their service reputation and costing them money.
Here are a few examples of broken business systems that can cause a business to lose customers:
Broken System #1: Automation with Zero Flexibility
A few days ago Go Daddy called me wanting to do a review of my account to make sure I had everything I needed. Great idea, right? The part of the system that went wrong was when I politely asked them to call me back next Monday so that we could do this when it was convenient for me and they said they couldn’t. Really? Apparently they have an auto-dial system that is not flexible enough for them to take a phone number. The agent refused to even write a note on paper and got mad when I asked more about any other option for them to follow up with me. It makes me want to switch URL providers.
Broken System #2: Policies that Leave the Customer Cold
Foot Locker is a popular fitness shoe company where I often buy my kids shoes. At the mall a few days ago I found the exact shoe my son was hoping to get for Christmas and they didn’t have it in this size. When I asked if they could check another store the sales clerk rolled her eyes, giving me that “if I have to” face and headed over to the phone. The good news was a nearby store had the size I was looking for. The bad system that frustrated me to no end was that they wouldn’t hold them for me. Not even for 30 minutes, even though I was doing to be driving straight there! What kind of customer service is that?
Broken System #3: Rigid Rules
This morning I woke up at 6 am to be at my new gym for 6:30 am. I am doing a trial and have a 2 week “free” pass. The receptionist greeted me with “where’s your ID?”
I didn’t know that I needed to bring it every single time I came in and replied with that. Her voice grew more firm and loud yelling at me “I told you , you have to bring your id”. I’m standing there pushing back tears , because (1) I’m not a morning person (2) I’m already intimidated going to a new gym and (3) I don’t handle anger well, I asked her calmly why? The owner of the gym has put a hard line system in place of “NO id, NO entry” and reception like a military soldier following orders apparently loves the power of enforcing the system. Guess who won’t be buying a membership there?
How to Fix Your Business by Using Customer Feedback
Having systems and structure in place can not be so rigid that you are not open to improvements and change if it’s not working. The missing ingredient is getting feedback from your customers and staff on what is working well and what is frustrating the people who are putting the profit in your bank account: your customers.
For 2016, consider putting in place a staff and customer feedback system. This could be as simple as a book where staff can log things that they would like to see working better and to record feedback from customers. Organize a review of your systems often until you get it right. Even after you’ve got it “right,” remember the tide can change. Be open to improving your systems when the feedback shows it’s not working well anymore.
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Wishing you peace this holiday season