When Good Policies Are Worthless

By : Rudy Vidal | | Category : Process & Procedure

A few days ago, my friend Joan went to a natural-food market. It’s recently been in the news for over-weighing customers’ purchases and so, overcharging them.

Joan found lentils were on sale for $1.99 and scooped up two pounds. At checkout, however, the cashier rang them up at $2.49.

When Joan protested, the cashier said $2.49 was the price in the system, and there was nothing she could do. Joan went to the floor attendant who shrugged it off, and then to the service desk, where she still could not find resolution.

Remembering the news story, Joan became flustered at the possibility she could be experiencing another scheme to overcharge customers. She called the manager and explained her problem one more time.

The manager quickly confirmed the system had the wrong price and carried out the policy for pricing errors: Apologizing for the inconvenience, she placing a “PAID” sticker on the bag and sent Joan home with two pounds of free lentils.

The manager should be complimented for the good save, but we must ask why the policy was not immediately implemented when the problem first arose.  If the cashier had known the policy and felt comfortable implementing it, Joan would have been immediately delighted, never remembering the negative news reports.

Good policies are worthless if they don’t reach the customer in the normal course of their shopping experience. Our need to escalate a customer concern to a manager is evidence of potential operational deficiencies. Frontline employees must be empowered to delight customers directly.