A few years ago, after I had taken back my car from the service center, I received a call asking for my feedback. I agreed, because I was in a good mood and thought it will be good to be polite for a change.

The call lasted 15 minutes.  It ended with the person telling me that someone else from the headquarters will also call me for the feedback. Needless to say, when that call came, I said I was busy and cut the call; and then blocked both the numbers!

What the car service folks did not understand is that their customers are busy; and unless they have a serious issue with the service, they would not complain. Irritating them, and wasting their time, with multiple questions makes them shrink away from the service-provider, and they are left wondering which thoughtless executive designed such a feedback process.

I wonder if they listen in on such calls to hear the increasing frustration of the customer, and also count the number of times such calls are cut short by the customer.

Getting a detailed post-service feedback might be a good practice in certain industries – like the hospitality industry. It is an industry where the customer expects the service provider to cater to personal preferences, and therefore, does not mind taking time to share preferences and opinions. 

Troubles start when such a practice is transplanted to another industry where customers don’t want to invest time, since it makes little difference to the service experience.

Continuing with best practices long after they have outlived their utility, can be a suprising source of trouble. Take the case of the newspapers in England. English newspapers were printed in a size known as broadsheet (37.5 cm x 57.8 cm) since 1712.

It was in that year the government started levying tax by the page. Despite the government stopping the tax per page system in the early 1800s, the broadsheet continued well into the twentieth century.

For nearly 200 years, this practice continued till ‘The Independent’ switched, in 2003, to tabloid (27.9 cm x 43.2 cm), a smaller size that was easier to handle. Sales rose by 15 per cent after the introduction of the tabloid and Independent made more money using less paper and gained more customers who liked the smaller size. 

Other papers have since followed suit. What was once a best practice to avoid paying taxes became an industry standard and took more than two centuries to be questioned by someone.

Best practices can be sticky and not always the best for your business!

What do you think? What are the outdated practices you see in your company? Do you see practices that have been imported from another industry, that are not working, or worse, counter-productive? Please leave your comments. I promise to respond to each one of them.

Note : This article was originally published on LinkedIn 

Ramesh Dorairaj

Ramesh Dorairaj is consultant, coach and an author. He has 27+ Years of Experience consulting for Fortune 500 companies worldwide. He has groomed 50+ leaders. Has participated in 2.5 Billion $ worth of successful deals.  He is a Certified Executive Coach at Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching, Certified Sales Coach and a Certified Proposal Coach.


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