Do your policies make people pick a fight?
“Do you think I bowed out … ‘cause I think you’re right or cause I don’t wanna fight?” – Fight by The Tragically Hip www.thehip.com
The worst thing to hear in the world is “I’m sorry, but our policy is …” because in a moment, you are going to be incredibly disappointed.
Saying “it’s our policy” is about as popular as saying “I was just following orders.” The person who says this is being encouraged to hide behind a faceless organization that makes these draconian decisions in other cities “above my pay grade.”
“Just tell them you are sorry, but can’t help, and then blame it on us. Just explain that ‘it’s our policy’.”
What a tragedy.
Poor policies take away the power from their front line staff to empathize and make a difference.
One of your clients has a crisis; it’s the front line staff that will hear about it long before the owner. Even worse, the owner will hear about it when its history, when whatever decision made is made, when it’s too late.
So you better hope your policy is to make people happy.
When you hide behind a policy what you are really saying is “We refuse to think.” You are saying this problem happens all the time, so often in fact that you have made a companywide decision to be unreasonable about it.
How about, “How can I help you?”
How about, “I completely understand.”
How about, “I am on your side.”
Sometimes things are going to go south. Sometimes you are going to ship something that gets lost by the courier or broken in transit. Something is going to go wrong and there won’t be anything you can do about …
Take ownership. Get on side with your clients and help them.
This is how you can sometimes turn a crisis into an opportunity.
So here is an exceptional story from my friend Joanne. I love her house, if it were ever up for sale I’d want to buy it. I think it’s perfect. She told me that she had the kitchen done by IKEA about 10 years ago.
The board that is right above her dishwasher had become discoloured. She was careful to explain that the reason the board had become discoloured is because the steam from the dishwasher affects it whenever she opens the door. It’s not the fault of the board, the stain or IKEA.
She has a handy guy remove the wood, heads to IKEA to see if she can get a new board. When she explains her story to the IKEA staff person he informs her that he can’t replace the board, but he can replace her entire kitchen at no cost.
Joanne reminds him she just needs a board.
He reminds her that the kitchen is guaranteed for life.
Joanne says “I really just need the board.”
He says “Sorry, it’s our policy.”
IKEA must be Swedish for “smart.”