Doing Right Versus Doing It Right

Following all the rules and procedures is not necessarily doing the right thing.  Unless, of course, the right thing means making sure that you, personally, cannot be blamed.

Being within the rules can still lead to bad results.  Think Wall Street.

The problem is that the real world changes faster than the rules.  Rules are always catching up.  People need to spend more time on doing right and not so much on doing it right.

Government created rules always follow something visible and undesirable.  They never lead.

Government service and business internal rules and the procedures are not entirely for the customer’s benefit, they are also to protect the person performing the task. No harm can befall you if you follow the book.  The customer is not so lucky.

Other rules like warranties do not protect the customer, they protect the manufacturer.  In particular they limit the things for which the manufacturer can be held accountable for both in type and in time.  The great irony is that they charge customers for them.

In September United Airlines allowed a dog to die while in their care.  They followed all the rules and procedures but as with all rules and procedures, the list was incomplete.  Reality is more complex than a rule book.  You can read about it here.  It is very sad.

United Airlines has had problems with other high profile people pointing out their errors.  YouTube has a video entitled “United Breaks Guitars”  Again, the rules were followed.

The message for you as a business person.

  • If your customer service group believes customer service is accomplished by following procedures rather than addressing legitimate customer concerns, you will inevitably fail.
  • If operations sees complaints as negative, you are missing cheap consulting advice.  For example, in the restaurant business about one customer in twenty-five will complain.  If twenty-five people showed up all at once about some defect you might pay attention.  One is just a nuisance.  Bad Mistake.  Twenty-four more are not coming back.
  • Allow your service people the latitude to make decisions that get the right answer even if that answer is not covered in “the book.”
  • Stop treating customer service as a cost center.  It may be your only “real” profit center.

I wonder if United Airlines has gotten the message yet.  They are not the only one.  With internet access, you cannot hide inept for long, so don’t try.  Is “ept” the opposite of inept, or even a word?  If it is work towards it.

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