The other day I got caught in one of those interminable calls with my cable provider. We’ve all been in this special little hell.

Cust Driven vs Process Driven

My objective was to report a service outage and schedule a hasty repair. The objective of the person on the phone was to follow the provided script and try to appease me without really doing anything to address my concern. She was totally following process—which, by the way, had nothing to do with solving customer problems or elevating my call to someone who could help. She assured me that a routine upgrade was already scheduled for my area, and that would fix it. Of course, my problem was unique to my address, but she wasn’t coached to deal with individuals; she was only equipped to report to members of large, geographic groups organized around the company maintenance and repair schedule.

When I calmed down, I reflected on how grateful I am that my colleagues at Freeman made the wise decision to take a customer-driven approach instead of a process-driven approach.  If you call Freeman today, a real person will answer the phone and connect you with the right individual. This is just one small example of how we’ve structured the company around the needs of the customer instead of forcing them to navigate the arbitrary demands of our own process. It makes a huge difference. And we are constantly trying to improve. It’s more expensive, but it’s priceless, too. Because we know that even customers with a valid complaint will give us credit for being quick and transparent in how we solve their problems.

So here’s a challenge: give yourself a gut check. When you approach clients – or internal customers – are you clinging to an outdated, mental checklist regarding the rules of engagement? Are you expecting customers to jump through your hoops to get service? Or are you opening your ears, opening your mind, and yes, opening your heart, so that you can serve them?

Think of the last time you were trapped in someone else’s bad process. Resolve to do better.