Corporate policies are put in place to maintain consistency and drive efficiency within an organization. But sometimes they work to undermine the customer experience, which can leave both employees and customers unsatisfied. With all the lip service given to the importance of the customer experience, it's unfortunate that when it comes down to practice, some companies rely more on strict policies than on solving customer problems.Take, for example, my current auto insurance company. My contract is based on a six-month policy. My husband and I enrolled in autopay, so everything is pretty much automated. We also have a personal agent who calls with updates every so often. So we were very surprised last week to notice that our monthly bill had gone up by $40.
When my husband called customer service, he was informed that we were being billed the extra money because we are not enrolled in eBilling. The company charges more to send paper statements. The problem with that is we are enrolled in eBilling. The only paper statements we get are once every six months, when our policy renews. Therefore, the company will charge us $240 over the next six months to send one paper statement. The agent on the phone said there is nothing she can do for the next six months, because the new rate has been established. She suggested we call our agent to find out what happened.
Our agent was apologetic, and said that it's normally their practice to alert us ahead of time when rates change. However, they forgot to do this with us. But once again, we were met with the answer that the company can't make the change for six months, because that's its policy.
Next, my husband called another number, specifically for customer complaints. Again, the agent was sympathetic, but reinforced the company's policy that his hands are tied for six months. He escalated the issue, and now we wait for someone to call us back.
Up until this experience, we were very happy with the company. Now, we are shopping around. Our trust that the company is working in our interests has been broken, all because of an inflexible policy and a lack of empowerment among employees. For all it says about the importance of customers, the truth is the company is more concerned with adhering to policies.
Unfortunately this sort of thing is all too common. While customer experience and customer centricity are discussed and programs are put in place, in many cases legal and corporate policies supersede everything else. Until companies provide more flexibility and employee empowerment, customers like us will jump ship to those that can consistently deliver on their customer promise.