June 17, 2009

Are Your Rules Driving Your Customer Crazy?

I recently went to a vacation resort whose rules drove me crazy! They had a requirement that you had to make reservations in advance for their three restaurants. The problem is that they did not have the menus available until around 11am in the morning. By that time you might have to eat either real early or real late. We also missed a couple of tours because we didn’t let them know a day in advance. Just what you do not want to do on vacation…think and plan ahead!

You may be thinking, well they have to make sure they have enough seating and food to accommodate everyone, so these rules are not that unreasonable. Of course I see that point too. However, I would think that they would be able to have a pretty good estimate of eating patterns and demand after being in business for a while so as to not to drive their more spontaneous customers crazy.

What drives you crazy as a customer and what companies make it easy to do business with them? Here are a couple of examples:

Think about movie theaters. They offer newly released movies more often and in more theaters anticipating that the demand will increase at that time. You don’t need a reservation to go to a show but you have the option of purchasing tickets ahead of time if you want to make sure you have a seat. They use their experience and options in serving their customers.

What happens if you have to go to a new doctor? They require about 3-5 lengthy forms to be completed on your medical history and other requirements. Quite often they expect you to arrive at your first appointment about 30-60 minutes early to complete the forms. Not respectful of your time. The last two new doctors I consulted had their forms on their websites. You could download them and fill them out when you had time avoiding adding extra time to your first appointment. Their process was much more customer friendly.

Now examine your rules. Do your rules drive your customer crazy or do you make it easy to do business with you? Here are a few tips:
· Examine the Purpose of the Rule: Was the rule designed for your benefit or the benefit of your customers? Some rules are put in place to track internal productivity or to give feedback to employees which is great as long as it does not impact the customer experience.
· Legal Requirements: Some rules are put in place to ensure your company complies with state or federal laws and regulations. Ask your legal department to examine whether you can comply with the regulations without the type of “fine print” that people usually do not read anyway and that drives customers crazy.
· Look at the Rule from a Customer Point of View: Take turns playing a “customer for a day.” Experience your sales and service process as a customer and honestly ask whether your rules would drive you crazy if you were a customer.


If you offer a unique service or product, your customers will put up with tiring rules. However, if there are many competitors in your industry, your customers will have buying choices. I prefer companies that make it easy to do business with them. Who would you rather do business with?

1 comment:

Shirley Fine Lee said...

I think I stayed in a resort that must be owned by the same group. We had to advance reserve meals at 3 of their fancier restaurants or eat the same buffet every day. Optional tours and activities also had to be booked the day before but the person who booked theses was only at their desk for 4 hours of each day! However, all the other people there were greatly concerned about the customer experience so most of the trip was pretty good. When employees give really great customer service, the customer will sometimes overlook slight irritations. However to keep customers and get desirable word of mouth marketing, every customer experience should be great.