TIP 23: Put the Blame on Your Company’s “Policies & Procedures.”

Rules are rules.

Negative Ned Says…

Ned Blames Company's Policy and Procedures

“I didn’t make the rules; I just work here. There’s nothing I can do. That’s the company’s policy. If I made an exception for you, it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. I think it’s a stupid rule, too, but there’s nothing I can do about it. If I don’t follow the rules, I could get fired. Maybe they won’t leave happy, but there’s always the next customer in line.”

Positive Paul Says…

Positive Paul

“Policies and rules are vital to an effective customer service department. That’s a given. But a good manager allows employees to make on-the-spot decisions regarding these policies. For example, companies like Nordstrom and Zappos have outstanding customer service departments that allow service representatives to make spontaneous decisions without management direction. These empowered employees make service friendly and fast.

Of course, there are times when your hands are tied and what a customer is asking goes beyond the limits set forth by your manager or your company’s policy. Roy Lantz writes in The Care and Keeping of Customers that we should use policies as bridges, not barriers. For example, you could say, ‘Although our policy does not allow that, we can do this, this, or this.’ Again, give them something they don’t expect.

The key to your success is to tell your customers what you can do, not what you can’t.”

A Real World Example

An Unhappy Customer Story

As shared by a coaching client:

“I had several heavy boxes of books delivered to my house. When the delivery men arrived, they deposited the boxes in the driveway. Luckily, I was home and rushed out to catch the men before they left. I asked if the men could take the boxes to the garage, instead of dumping them in the driveway, but they said the company’s policy was to leave deliveries in the driveway. I said I would pay extra to have the boxes moved, but the delivery men were firm with their decision. Needless to say, they created an awful experience and I won’t work with that company again.”

Memorable story? You bet. Good or bad? VERY bad.

Moral to the story: Blaming the ‘policy’ is a great way to ensure less work for you in the future.

Strategies to Turn This Around

Give solutions instead of excuses.

  1. If the policy has to be enforced, apologize for the inconvenience. Then, explain the reason for the policy.
  2. Offer other solutions.
  3. If the customer is still unsatisfied, inform the manager.


Remember: Use the policy as a bridge, not a barrier.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

— Benjamin Franklin

© 2012 by Barbara Khozam Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this message may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.

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