Have you ever bent the rules in assisting a customer? Tell me about the situation and the outcome

Customer satisfaction often hinges on whether customers get what they feel is fair. Even if it’s a little different from what they originally expected, customers will stay more often than not if what happens during their experience with your company was fair and to their advantage.

Know when to do it

Providing that kind of experience can, at times, require bending or breaking the rules.

One caveat: Never break or even bend rules put in place to keep customers, their information, your company and its employees safe. Period.

In most other circumstances, rules can be bent or broken if customer-facing employees have some guidelines on working around policies and processes.

These are three circumstances when some rule-bending can be considered:

  1. The policy is unclear or unspecific. If customers and employees continually need clarification to fully understand every detail of a rule, it may need a makeover or some special consideration. For instance, if your return policy requires returns within a month, and it’s not written on invoices, you might want to allow returns within 35 days.
  2. The rule is old or outdated. If a customer-facing employee ever has to tell a customer, “That’s the way we’ve always done it” with no further explanation, the rule probably needs some serious review. Every rule is put into place for a reason. But if it’s not reviewed regularly, you may miss the fact that the reason no longer exists.
  3. The rule jeopardizes customer relationships. If you hear complaint after complaint about a certain policy, you can bet it’s hurting customer relationships. It feels unfair to them, and they’ll go somewhere else where they feel treated fairly. Put complaint-inducing policies on the chopping block. If you can’t get rid of them entirely, craft them to be more flexible and customer-friendly.