Have you ever experienced being in the metaphoric bucket that some business create because of bad customers? That place where we all get stuck because of a policy that was designed to handle a few bad customers. Most of us have, and it is beyond frustrating and it happens all too often. Businesses forget that one bad experience shouldn’t dictate how the majority of customers are handled.
Policies are often made when something happens in a business where a customer behaves badly. The result of the new policy is that every other customer gets put into the same bucket. TSA is a good example of this. How many of us are truly bad actors and would smuggle weapons on an airplane? Of course, a very small percentage. It is no different in business. Most consumers behave respectfully and conduct business honestly but because of a few bad actors, we are all penalized.
The notion that if one customer is bad means that all customers are bad drives the good customers right out of the door.
The first thing that any business should do when setting a global policy is to analyze exactly why the problem exists and look at operational changes to mitigate the problem. For example, many fast food restaurants place the soft drink dispenser in a place where consumers can fill and refill as many times as they want. However, some have chosen to place signs on the machines that give a strict restriction on refills limiting them to one. Why put the machine out there with a restriction like that? Most establishments factor the refill cost into the initial price eliminating customer frustration and confusion. Why set the customer up for failure? It would be better to raise the price to cover the cost of the soda.
Having a company inadvertently place you in the bad bucket is equally, if not more, frustrating. For example, I’ve been a patient at the Mayo Clinic my entire life, always paying what I owe. Due to a clerical error, my insurance company did not pay a claim for services I received. I noticed on my bill that it was not paid so I contacted the clinic and discussed the matter with them. After a three way call with the insurance company, the clinic and myself, it was resolved. The insurance company admitted that they made an error. I followed up with the clinic inquiring whether I needed to do anything else, I was told “no don’t worry about it, it will take time.” I followed up several more times and was told the same thing. Eventually, the charge was removed from my bill. Finally, the insurance company paid as they said they would do.
I later discovered that I was completely wrong about the clinic receiving payment. The Mayo actually wrote the bill off and turned me over to a collection agency! I found out when I was attempting to make an appointment When I was routed to someone that I thought was a scheduler. She was actually in the finance department explaining to me that I was not able to make an appointment until I paid the bill. I was furious! I explained what had happened and she agreed to call the insurance company while I was on hold. After a 20 minute wait, she was back confirming that the insurance company had indeed dropped the ball again. She apologized and made the appointment. However, this was not the end of my issues with the Mayo.
The Mayo has a great patient portal where patients can access anything to do with their relationship with them. I logged in to verify my appointment and discovered it was gone. A phone call disclosed that it was cancelled because I had an outstanding bill. After 10 hours on the phone with many different people, I finally was removed from the dead beat bucket. They had a flag on my profile that told the person that was making the appointment that I was a financial risk. Yes, I was in the bucket and it was beyond frustrating. I was put there because I was lumped in with the people that actually don’t pay. All of this was due to clerical errors and the lack of policy to handle unique issues such as this.
In your business, don’t have just one bucket for all. Design strategic policies to make sure the good customers are not in the dead beat bucket! If you don’t, your top line will slowly erode as customers defect.