I Don’t Care if it’s Against Company Policy

...that's YOUR problem, not mine!

Have you ever walked into a store or been a guest at a hotel and had a problem that was “out of the ordinary”?  Of course you have, it has happened to many of us.  It may be that the store “sale” was over and you wanted to return a product for credit or your room was not exactly to your liking.

against company policy

Either way, something about the product or service you paid for did not live up to your expectations, or to the advertised sales literature.

So like a good customer you mention this to your salesperson or hotel front desk agent, expecting a quick resolution to your seemingly reasonable request. Your response… “It’s against company policy” for me to do that…Well, I don’t care if it’s against your company policy. I just want my issue fixed. Click To Tweet The policy of a store/business should never be recited to a customer. Click To Tweet

They don’t care about your policies; they only care about their questions or concerns being answered and addressed in a timely manner.

If they ask something of you that you are not allowed to do; example: take a return of an item that is damaged and not covered within your usual return policy, then explain that you are not allowed to accept the return because of the damage. Don’t explain why and how it’s written in your employee handbook.

It is perfectly acceptable to inform a customer that; “Sorry but I will not be able to offer you ______________, but I CAN do this”. Maybe you can’t give a credit back on the sale item but you should be able to offer a store credit to your guest. Or offer a discount coupon towards their next purchase.

Just as when we never want to tell a customer NO, there usually is another way to offset the needs of the guest.

In the above example, a better response would be “I’m sorry that we cannot accept this damaged item for return but I can offer you a discount coupon good toward your next purchase here” “I trust that will be a good way to show that we value your business and hope you continue to be a customer”.

In the hotel example, if a guest is unhappy with their room, maybe it doesn’t have a good view or the room has a stale odor, the best way to help the customer is to change their room and maybe even upgrade them to a larger suite, if possible.

But “company policy” states that if the room has a stale odor, you are to have someone from Housekeeping come and spray a deodorizer in the room. That’s not the best way to address the problem; the guest knows you took the easy way out. Better to change their room and send up a complimentary amenity as well.

This is how you “WOW” your guest.

Being in the retail or hospitality business is a challenging one to say the least. There are countless opportunities to make a customer happy, but this also comes with the occasional upset customer with a situation that needs to be addressed.

  • Don’t recite company policy
  • Don’t point to the policy listed on the poster behind the cash register (better yet, tear down that poster)
  • Don’t let your guest walk away unhappy.

There is always another way to address a problem. I have taught my employees to put themselves in “the shoes of the customer”. “How would YOU feel if you had this same problem and you couldn’t get it fixed”?  Does this make you want to do business with this store again?  Do you feel like you have been taken advantage of?  Do you think they really care about YOUR satisfaction?

If you would not like to be treated in this manner then most likely your customer will not either!

Businesses that “think like the customer” are better prepared to offer solutions that make the customer feel appreciated and want to return.

That is the essence of customer service.

Not policy, just solutions.

Agree? Do you have a better way to get around “company policy”.  ➤Leave a comment below and add to the discussion, thanks.

Copyright © 2018 Steve DiGioia

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7 thoughts on “I Don’t Care if it’s Against Company Policy

  1. I agree completely! “Policy” is usually out in place to protect the business from fraudulent or other abuse of their system….there are times when a from “no” is important to send a scammer on their way. But having worked in retail management for 40 years I knwo the scammers are few, and the honest customers who just didn’t keep their receipt (or whatever) are the majority.

    I recently bought a very expensive eyeliner product, and although it performedm as promised it contains some glitter flakes I wasn’t expecting. Turns out I had selected the wrong colour. I checked the back of my receipt for the exchange policy, and also checked the company website, and thought that perhaps I would be allowed to exchange for the right colour even though the eyeliner was opened and used.

    I don’t know about you, but I hate that most store receipts now are 12″ long with promotions, surveys, and other “junk mail” on them. So my personal habit is to cut the receipt right after the payment info, and I had done just that with my eyeliner receipt….I cut it after “customer copy” and discarded the lower 6″.

    When I went to exchange, I jokingly asked the clerk “Do you have a provision in your exchange policy for stupid old ladies who bought the wrong colour?”…as an icebreaker. The clerk smiled and said that if I had my re Eliot, it was no problem when I represented my receipt she said that she couldn’t process the transaction because I had cut off the bar code! Remember I just wanted an exchange, not my cash back….but I guess they need to account for every sku and enter the stock number of my return (which was clearly printed on my receipt). I pointed out that all the information was there, including the transaction number and date, and she just repeated the “policy”. I asked her to check with a supervisor and after a minute she returned with a “sorry, without the bar code there’s nothing we can do”.

    I was getting grumpy now….none of my staff would ever treat a customer like this! I pointed out that within a week, my receipt was already starting to fade, and asked what they would do if I had the barcode but the till couldn’t read it….? Surely there must be some provisos for crumple, torn, or others wise unreadable barcodes on receipts….? The answer was that they wouldn’t be able to do anything for me unless I was a member of their “cosmetics club” for,then they could loo, up my transaction. I left unstasified and determined not to shop there again. As a first time customer, they hadn’t done anything to keep me!

    It festered for a few days then I emailed their customer service department, told the whole story, and said that if a barcode wa so important to an exchange transaction, then that unwritten rule should become part of their published policy, on their instore signage, the back of receipts, and the website. I stated that I understood the reasons for hanging firm return policies, but seeing as I’m an old woman and only wanting an exchange age, not cash, I was unlikely to be a fraud refunder. And I attached a copy of my receipt, asked if someone could just authorize my simple exchange transaction. Several days later, I got a reply, asking me to send my request to the returns audit dept or something. I didn’t type out my story again, I just forwarded my original email and their reply to the next dept, with a one line request “Please just let me know if my exchange can be authorized or not.”

    A few more days later, I got another reply asking what store the problem occurred at, or if it was an online transaction. This after supplying them with a scan of my receipt. (Aarrgghh!) so I replied with that info.

    The next day I FINALLY got an email from an Assistant Manager of my local store, who said that my transaction should have npbeen hanlded as I originally requested, apologizing for untrained seasonal staff and authorizing my exchange. I replied to reiterate that the young woman who had served me was polite, not rude, and commiserated about how hard it is to cram all a company’s procedures and rules into a new hires head!

    Although I thought it odd that the store’s Manager hadn’t contacted me, I am heading there today to try my exchange once again. Fingers crossed!

    This is unfortunately, a very typical example of “customer service” today.
    Even assuming I get my exchange done today, I’m still not sure if I want to shop at that store again. I’m sure they won’t miss me…..

    • Hi Sandy,

      You are correct. Your scenario if rapidly becoming the norm for what passes as customer service today.

      At some point businesses must realize (I hope) that the overall experience is what keeps or loses a customer. Rules, regulations and mundane policies will do nothing but push customers away.

      Thanks for your great comment and becoming part of the team here Sandy!

  2. Our policy on book returns is a good example. If a student buys textbooks and returns them within a week (dropped a course, course was cancelled, instructor using alternative teaching methods) with receipt, we refund entire purchase price to the customer. If, however, the time period has past, then the options come into play – return the books for a possible 50 percent return on the purchase during our upcoming BuyBack period…or risk getting much less back from our wholesaler if they still want to return the book then and there. At that point, we (CSRs) have done what we are allowed to do. If there are extenuating circumstances, we usually recommend that the customer speak with our manager or a qualified supervisor who can then take the appropriate action for the customer. We always try to make known the options, in order to keep the situation calm…but there are times when a customer has been so dissatisfied, that they have literally thrown a book at a CSR!

    • A policy is usually put in place to benefit the business. If it doesn’t benefit the customer, how can it truly benefit the business? The customer coming first IS our business.

      Thanks Lisa.

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