I saw an interesting blog on the New York Times recently about the challenges of enforcing defined customer service policies. The blog explored some of the challenges airline gate staff have when asking customers about the size of their carry-on luggage.
With extremely loyal customers who frequently fly on a certain airline, it doesn’t seem like a sensible option to anger the customer as they are about to board a flight, but rules are rules so who defines where common sense can allow the policies to be flexible?
This problem becomes even greater when applied across borders. If a single customer service centre is serving customers from several countries with quite different cultural attitudes to how exactly rules should be followed – should the agents serving customers be strict about their application of the rules or can some flexibility ensure a better customer experience overall?
I believe that regardless of how loyal and regular a customer is, and regardless of national attitudes to rules and conditions, we should always build some flexibility into that contact between a customer and an agent. There is a need to provide scope and guidance to the customer service agents, but then also a need to trust them to make good decisions based on each customer interaction.
The agents on the front line are dealing with customers all the time and their judgement about when the rules can be flexed a little will usually be right. Let’s give them the space to make those decisions.
Photo by Jo Jonas licensed under Creative Commons