Dealing with the large social media entities and giants of the online world can be a lot like the famous Office Space TPS reports scene. In the scene, Peter Gibbons is talked to about his TPS reports by two people, a phone call, and even his friends have heard that he has been having “problems” with his TPS reports. He simply forgot about the new cover sheet policy. With each new person who talks to him about the TPS reports, they promise to send him a copy of the memo. Everyone he encounters, with the exception of his friends, doesn’t care that he has already spoken to someone else regarding the policy and the TPS reports, but knows that it is their duty to discuss the policy with him and everyone is required to live by the policies set forth by management. This is an example of corporate policy without common sense.
This is the case when trying to get help from some of the giants of the online world, if you can even manage to get help. Recently, we encountered a technical problem setting up a LinkedIn Company Page for a client. In this case, another company in Canada had long ago setup a Page using the same name as our client. The Canadian company has since shut it’s doors. Not even their website existed anymore. We discovered this and brought it to LinkedIn for assistance in creating the Page for our client. LinkedIn refuses to allow us to move forward because the company names are too similar, even though the Canadian company no longer exists. They will not remove the other company’s Page. We have gone back and forth with LinkedIn over the issue but they refuse to deviate from their procedures by using common sense.
In a different area, Google can also be frustrating. It is now extremely difficult to get any assistance from Google, but this hasn’t always been the case. Google used to have a great feature where we could live chat with tech support if necessary. They have recently eliminated this feature for many of their services, so now phone or email are the main methods of getting assistance. A phone call sounds convenient, right? It would be if the operators spoke understandable English. When operators are difficult to understand or they are constrained by following certain problem resolution procedures without applying any common sense, the solution remains out of rech.
This over-reliance on procedure can also slow down things that should be easy and prompt. Want to take advantage of Google’s holiday hour feature? Submit your hours and wait three days for approval and publishing. Want to remove a couple pictures from Bing Places for Business (previously known as Bing Local)? Make your changes and wait up to 14 days. Any time you want to make a simple change to your Google or Bing listing for your business there is a waiting period. Now thankfully Google’s isn’t as long as Bing’s, but in the world of fast moving data, any waiting period is inhibiting marketers and business owners from successfully promoting their business. Now, I’m not one to praise Yelp, but this is something they have done right. If you want to make a change to your Yelp listing, like inputting your holiday hours, those changes take effect immediately: no waiting period, no hoops to jump through. Just a simple click of a button. While there should be some changes that need to go through Google and Bing for verification, not all changes should which is why certain policies should be changed.
We all have Google My Business accounts to manage our Google listings and the Bing equivalent for those listings. We stewards of our brands control the dashboard; we know what is going on with our brands better than anyone else and would give our non-dominant arm to make sure that nothing happens to mar our brand’s reputation. At the end of the day that is what matters and how dare Google and Bing take that control away from us and decide if our holiday hours or a simple removal of a photo is good enough for our brand. That is up to us to decide.
Policies and procedures are great to have. They help determine a path to take in certain situations. However, policies and procedures are not things that determine the fate of every outcome. There are some instances that need to go against policies and procedures and involve common sense. The examples described above illustrate when common sense should be applied to existing policies. Customer service agents on the front lines of support need to be empowered to use common sense when appropriate. Policies and procedures have a time and a place but that time and place should not impact the marketing capabilities of those trying to do right by their brand. A corporate policy without common sense benefits no one.
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