I ran across a specific example of standard policy that I found amusing (related to the post earlier today on Why Isn’t Work Standard). Like the authors, I can’t really see a reason for why you would want a policy that no more than two prepaid cell phones can be purchased. But if it is important, couldn’t you design a much better system to assure this policy was followed. And, at the very least, let customers hear your reasoning (so make an accurate explanation part of the standard work instruction stopping the sale of more than 2) behind such a restraint on their options. Doing so wouldn’t really help solve the problem (if they want more phones) but it seems it would be better customer service not to make up stuff like claiming it is the law – which is what happens when you tell people to do things without explaining why. Why Wal-Mart Will Refuse to Sell You Prepaid Cell Phones:
He collects my phones (seven in total) and walks me over to the register.Then another sales associate named Tara looks at me, then at Tom and finally at the phones and says to Tom, “you know he can’t buy all those phones”. Tom looks puzzled for a second and then his eyes light up with recognition. He turns to me and says, “I’m sorry sir, she’s right. We can’t sell you more than two phones”
Later, the post author explains the answer he receives after calling Walmart headquarters and being directed to the District manager – “the only person that could quote policy.” The person that answers says the district manager is busy but she can answer, there is no policy that only the district manager can quote policy:
A few minutes later, she calls me back and says that yes, it is indeed a Wal-Mart policy not to sell a person more than two prepaid phones. However, she said that the official policy was that they “could not sell more than two phones per person, not per household, per day”. So, Tara was clearly not listening on Wal-Mart policy day. I asked why this was an official policy (again, I stayed mum about what Tara and Ann had told me) and she said she wasn’t really sure, but that she could find out and give me a call back.
Verizon seems to be doing a good job keeping poor customer focus as a guiding policy (double trouble at Verizon):
Verizon Associate: “I’m sorry Sir. I cannot sell you an un-activated phone.”
Me: “Why not?”
Verizon Associate: “I’m not really sure. But that’s our policy.”
Me: “So, I can buy an un-activated Verizon prepaid phone in Wal-Mart, but I can’t buy one un-activated from Verizon?”
Verizon Associate: “That’s correct.”
Related: Telephone Savings – Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card – Poor Service – Industry Standard? – Companies in Need of Customer Focus
More customer focus goodness from the post, Target this time:
I hit the button to call over a sales associate and waited. A woman who looked annoyed that I was interrupting her came over and asked what I needed. I had already perused the phone selection while waiting and saw they only had one that I didn’t already have in my possession – Boost Mobile. After she unlocked my selection, I asked “If I wanted to buy ten phones right now, could I?” She had already gone behind the register and gave me an even more annoyed look and replied, “So now you want ten?” I told her, “No, I just want to know if I could buy ten” to which she responded, “If you can afford it.” Wow, I guess she really paid attention to the “we care about customer service” video she watched during her training.
By the way I bet while in the short run Wal-Mart caused the customer a great deal of trouble in the long run the customer is much better off due to all the publicity they get from people like me pointing to their post.