Quack, Quack, Quack!

3073824755_20ba2efd2f1When i visited the US in January 2005 I observed an obvious contrast between the customer service in Aussie land compared to the US. Be it in a restaurant or a business i received excellent service as they sought to meet my needs not just sell me a product. In Australia i haven’t found the same to be true.

I have a profound annoyance with the lack of customer service i encounter in many businesses and organisations. One of the most frustrating experiences is being given the policy manual when you ask for certain things to happen…quack, quack, quack…

You know the scenario, “$10 minimum eftpos amount” and you want to buy something for $9.50 and they refuse to provide what you need because of a stupid policy…quack, quack, quack…

You can tell the difference between great businesses and avge businesses by how the sales assistants or customer service reps on the ground react to customers requests that are out of the box. Australians find this hard to wrap their minds around and it’s embarrasing.

When employees constantly throw the book at you rather than valuing the customer, serious questions start to get raised in our heads about the culture and leadership of that particular organisation. I think churches have got a lot to learn in this regard. Yes, every company, organisation, church and charity has policies that make things hum but some of these policies need to be flexible when presented with out of the box scenarios.

An example of this is the story of Ken Blanchard heading to his flight on Southwest airlines without a passport or his license. The only ID he had was his photo and name on one of the books he authored and upon presenting his situation to the airline reps, he was escorted through without any problem. In contrast to this, on his return flight he connected with another airline (a struggling one) and presented the same scenario as he had with Southwest only to be met with, “You’ve got to be kidding” and up the food chain everything went, shift supervisor after manager after manager and before you know it…quack, quack, quack…!

I say stuff the policies if the circumstances deem it…my wife says I might be eating these words one day…she’s generally right.

Lead the Change!

4 Responses to “Quack, Quack, Quack!”

  1. Karen Tiller Says:

    Yes, The Lord has had me “out there” for a while and teaching me about “Leadership” and Integrity and customer Service Excellence but with Sincerity of Heart (as us Christians are called to do and be or become!).
    There are many businesses out there that (especially at this time) are not necessarily following what they so called “preach” by their written manuals (which would need to be carefully written and obeyed if they were to so called “follow their law” lol) BUT we are called to be “church” which is people which is opposite to the business world in some ways so we may not be understood very well in businesses when we do it our way, Gods Way… but it can be done as we know hey!
    I also have experienced this sort of thing in business (and many people I know both Christians and non-christians) and their isnt a lot of justice in the worldly system.
    But there is coming a time when its US the Christians businesses done Gods way and we will be hugely in the marketplace as there are MANY people out there (Christians) now that God is raising up to rise to their call in the marketplace. There has to be a huge difference between Churches and the marketplace but us Christians are the light of the world so we lead… Gods way! yeahy!

  2. Rach Wallace Says:

    I agree, sometimes policies are completely counter-productive, but often employees are torn between enforcing policies they know to be ludicrous or facing the wrath of a narrow minded boss.
    While I think that the minimum efptos sucks, small businesses get a fee of 50c for each transaction under $10. When we are talking small business, and someone is paying with efptos for something with a 40c markup, this is a considerable loss for the business, and one of the reasons that local businesses are being trashed by chain stores who have the luxury of lower wholesale prices. I reckon we should get the option of paying the fee rather than being completely denied.
    But I also think that policies are quite necessary: often the pettiness of a cantankerous customer or unrealistic demands require policies to be in place to safeguard the employee and keep continuity in the structure of and preservation of the original intention of the business.
    Usually each policy has been created to set a boundary against something that has actually happened, so even though they might seem over the top, it is the equivalent of ‘de-bugging the system’ so that it runs smoothly and true to its original purpose.
    To me, gathering a large group of diverse people into a single corporation requires biblical – length procedures or the system will collapse as each employee then has the ability to inject their own discretion into each cirmustance, which is fine if you are on the ball and loyal to your employer, but not everyone is a snappy thinker and if each employee has the ability to process individual requests differently, service will become more erratic and unpredictable than it is with the procedures.
    I do however think that this ‘overblown-beaurocracy’ has risen as a defense against the more slap-happy methods used in the past that resulted in considerable loss, and I think (or should I say hope!) that with time, a balance will come as customer satisfaction declines and counter policies are written. I think that history and culture tend towards pendulum-like trends, responding to past issues with such zeal to the point of over-compensation and then become self-defeating eg the Feminist movement
    While I do agree that inflexibility and lack of common sense are the biggest killers to the customer satisfaction and therefore, business growth, I also think that we are such an instant-gratification generation that we struggle to to adapt to our institutions and expect everything to cater to us. Having worked in retail, trust me, the old addage ‘The customer is always right’ is definately not always the case! I have seen some real doozies. LOL
    Oh my, this has been quite the essay – hope you don’t mind my different perspective (but i’m sure you won’t! i get the impression you’re not the type to take offense at a little free-thought, hehe)

    • Corey Turner Says:

      Great thoughts. You seem to be far more informed than me on under the surface issues in policy making for businesses. I like the way you clarify the tension that exists at both ends of the spectrum from a customers perspective and a business perspective. My comments come from a leadership and organisational perspective that observes how different organisations work as a reflection of the leadership within it.

      I am a patient customer who is looking to see employees empowered to provide excellent service and a supreme experience for people, not just dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Thanks for sharing (I don’t mind a bit of free thought at all…)


  3. Rach Wallace Says:

    Yeah too true…. I remember once when i was working in a chain-coffee shop that shall remain unamed ;o) and i was forcibly told to dispense freshly boiled water in a flimsy plastic cup to a mother with a pram and a small child; the reason being ‘the cups are too expensive for non paying customers.’
    The lady had actually made a purchase and was requesting the water for her child’s bottle. I was fuming at my boss’ irresponsibility and felt terrible as i nearly dropped the wilting cup as i handed it over. Praise God it didn’t harm the lady or her children but its one of those things that sits under you skin, and even years later I am annoyed at myself for not respectfully refusing my boss’ dangerous and selfish decision. Oh well, we do improve with age don’t we. Love the variety in your blogs, Corey, it provides great mental stimulation and challenging viewpoints. Looking forward to the new series; good on you for addressing the topic.

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