The Playful Policy Review To Improve Customer Experience

This bizarre report about the need to improve customer experience arrived from a perturbed customer in Asia:

“I wanted to play golf at a prestigious course in town, so I went to the Pro-Shop to book a time.

“The attendant at the counter said she could not take my booking in person as she was only allowed to accept golf reservations by telephone.

“I explained that I wanted to make a booking right away. And since I was already there, wouldn’t she please make the reservation?

“The attendant refused once again, repeating that she only took bookings by telephone.

“A public telephone stood in the corner nearby. I walked over to it and promptly called the Pro-Shop. The attendant answered the telephone and proceeded to make my booking. The entire time I could see her at the counter while we were speaking on the phone. And she could see me, too.”

This makes me wonder: If the customer had used his mobile phone to call the reservations clerk while he was standing directly in front of her, then would she have seen the absurdity of her ways? And if she did, would she have told her managers about it to improve customer experience? Or made a suggestion to change it?

Most likely, not.

Key Learning Point To Improve Customer Experience

Frontline staff are taught to follow policies and procedures. Often they are hesitant to “break the rules” even in an attempt to improve customer experience. Yet some rules should be broken, or changed, or at least seriously bent from time to time to improve customer experience. Are your staff bound by rules they cannot change? If those rules are outdated or problematic, will they tell you in an effort to improve customer experience?

Action Steps To Improve Customer Experience

Bring your staff together in a mood of irreverent fun for a “Playful Policy Review.” Do something unusual to set the tone: wear party hats, bring a cake to share, show five minutes of a stand-up comedian on video, put a funny sign in front of the room, or use bright magic markers with flipchart paper on the wall.

Make a list (in advance) of key policies and procedures your staff must work with every day. Go through the list with your staff asking two questions: “What do you like least about this policy (or procedure)?” and “What do our customers find most problematic about this policy?”

Write everything down. Keep the mood light and easy in a spirit of playful review. If you wish, ask a third question: “How would you change this policy if you could?”

After the meeting, carefully study the list, taking one of two key actions:

1. Modify the policy to eliminate or reduce the friction and to improve customer satisfaction. If your staff have made good points and reasonable suggestions, implementing those changes will boost efficiency, responsibility, staff morale and may improve customer satisfaction.

2. If the policy cannot be changed (and there may be good reasons not to: security, credit risk, government requirements, etc.), take the time to explain the rationale of the current system to your staff. Be sure they understand it so well that they can explain it in a positive and convincing manner to someone else. After all, this is exactly what they should do every day with your customers to improve customer experience.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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