Should employees break the rules to help customers?


The answer is simple, yes.

In an excellent article by CBS News, they mention five reasons to break the rules

  1. If you’ve done something wrong
  2. If it costs you essentially nothing
  3. When your customers are ready to leave
  4. When your competition are doing it
  5. If the rule is wrong

How many times have you encountered a customer service person who refuses to go above and beyond because of the rules. Rules are meant to be broken. Rules are established by the people who sit in their fancy offices all day and never work on the front lines with the customers. A good President or CEO spends time with their people on the front lines, in other words, MBWA. What is MBWA? The origin of the term has been traced to executives at the company, Hewlett PAckard, for management practices in the 1970’s. Also, Tom Peters used the term in his 1982 groundbreaking book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s BestRun Companies. In sum, it refers to a style of business which involves managers wandering around, in an unstructured manner, throughout the workplace. 


Let’s get back to employees breaking the rules. Why not trust your employees to make the right decision for the customer. As a matter of fact, empower them to do so. Empowerment increases the degree of autonomy and self determination in people and enables them to serve in a responsible fashion while keeping the customer first. 


At Mount Royal Commemorative Services, I was in charge of marketing and the Executive Director wanted a customer service manual. So I prepared one in five minutes although he was expecting a lengthy document. The entire team gathered for a meeting and I announced our new customer service manual; it was one page and had two words on it – families first. And that was it. Our customer service was always the best. 

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