Are Your Rules Driving Customers Away?

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 Staples had a sale on computer remotes. Regular price $74.99, on sale for $19.99 — a $50.00 savings. I already had one, but at that price, it made sense to get a back-up.

I dropped by on the way home — unfortunately I arrived at 5 minutes past closing time. The doors were open, people were shopping and cash registers were open.

However, I was denied entrance. I asked if I could enter, explaining that I was there to pick up a specific item and that I knew exactly where it was located. No deal. The young man at the door had his orders. No one was allowed in after closing time.

I didn’t get my back-up remote. They lost the goodwill of a customer.

Which was worse?

My Perspective: This is a perfect example of the need for guidelines versus rules. It is difficult for rules to be flexible. But guidelines allow for real people to make decisions based on specific circumstances. Why was this employee not empowered to make a simple call on an issue?

Frequently I have discussions with clients that are based on a specific issue that has arisen. My advice is always to avoid creating a rule that will fix that issue — but to look for the guideline that would have prevented the issue.

Then you either need to create a guideline that will avoid numerous similar issues — or communicate the existing guideline better so people know how to work within it. We usually agree that communication and training is the issue versus creating a new guideline.

So the next time an issue arises and you are thinking about creating a rule — stop, and look for the root cause and focus your efforts there.

Do you need a new guideline — or do you just need to communicate the existing guidelines better?

By the way — I did get the remote — my wife was kind enough to drop by the next day and pick one up. But Staples never regained their goodwill.

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