Don’t let ‘policy’ kill growth

Whenever you think of resorting to company policy to justify yourself to a customer, just down-grade your growth projections.


I know that this hasn’t anything to do with growth but I just have to share this with you. I have done what a lot of people do every day (individuals don’t do it every day, but everyday a lot of people do what I have just done), which is shifting house.

Actually, I think I could write a best seller on the “do’s and don’ts” of shifting, but for the moment I just want to talk about one aspect of shifting, which is changing phone numbers.

You would think that simply cancelling a fax number with Optus would be straightforward. Give them a call, tell them that you want to disconnect the line and that is the end of the matter. Do you know, I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a nice guy who was reading company policy to me and I suspect that in two months my line might be cancelled; but the conversation finished inconclusively, perhaps because I was unable to contain my frustration.

I will let you know in two months if my fax number is cancelled, but in the meantime don’t worry about sending a fax because there will be no one at the address nor will there be a fax machine. I am sure Optus is growing, but remind me never to do business with it any more.

Anyway, who on earth uses fax machines? The internet is not only the state of the art means of communication but it has become part of our lives. We can’t survive without broadband. If we’re off the air for half a day we go through withdrawal symptoms that give us some idea of the suffering that junkies must go through when they can’t get the stuff.

So “damn it all” I thought, who cares about a stinking old fax number? All I have to do is phone TPG and tell them I have shifted address and give them my new telephone number and everything will be fine; I will be in touch with the world.

Guess what! I had a talk with a lovely guy at TPG at 9.30pm when I had hooked up my computer at my new address and asked him if he could redirect my broadband connection to the new telephone number. “Well, it can be done but you will have to call at 8.00am tomorrow when someone is on duty”.

Hell. I know that we expect doctors to be on call when we get a temperature late at night (and how many of my doctor mates get irate about silly little things like getting out of bed in the middle of the night because someone has developed signs of a virus!) but when it comes to life threatening stuff like not being connected to the internet, when call centres work 24/7, we simply don’t accept a second of disruption. “Right now” is what we expect in this day and age of instant technology.

This nice guy at TPG at 9.30pm tells me not only to call again in the morning but when I do, what they tell me in the morning is that they won’t be able to alter my broadband connection for about five days. “What!” I shout too aggressively (before I recall that this guy is just reading “company policy”). “In this day and age of technology, you put me off the air for five days?”. He realises that he has said something that sounds stupid, and so he says, rather defensively: “Well, that is the worst case scenario.” “No it isn’t,” is my reply. “It is a catastrophe.”

In my earlier days as a lawyer I learnt a few tricks about negotiating. However one trick that I never learnt was to deal with people who resorted to “company policy”. It’s in the book; they can read and they know that the boss will give them a hell of time if they ignore that sacred of sacred sanctuaries when unable to give a response that meets customer expectations.

“Company policy” is non-negotiable. People will lose their jobs if they fail to apply “company policy”. Don’t waste your time arguing with them; it is like hitting your head against a brick wall.

What do you do? You find someone who can accommodate you. Someone who will bend over backwards to help you in a jam like the removalist guys. No one would touch our old washing machine and we had to get rid of it. We mentioned it to the removalist guys and they said “no worries”. Perhaps they made something out of it. I hope so. We certainly had a real problem solved when these two guys lifted the massive machine into the back of their van.

The guys from MiniMovers made one of the more difficult days of my life bearable because nothing was too much trouble. I think that the company is growing like steam.

Whenever you think of resorting to company policy to justify yourself to a customer, just down-grade your growth projections.




Ben writes: What an ill-informed article. The reason why it takes five days to connect a broadband service is because that is how long Telstra take to connect your service at the exchange, nothing to do with TPG. If you are moving premises, I would suggest having a one to two week overlap of services. If you wish to keep your number then that’s fine, your service provider should be able to provide you with a temporary number for a small fee. Before you write again Louis, I would suggest doing your research.



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