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Best Practice When A Policy Collides

The Risks of Stagnant Policies

Some businesses allow policies to become stagnant daily habits without adaptation. However, maintaining peak performance requires ongoing effort to align with industry best practices. Rigid policies can lead to customer dissatisfaction, missed opportunities, and a failure to keep up with evolving standards and market conditions. This time around we are going to explore strategies for bridging the gap between official policies and real-world best practices.

The Inciting Incident: A Policy Pitfall

To illustrate the pitfalls of inflexible policies, consider a recent personal experience navigating a credit card dispute process. Recently, I discovered an unresolved dispute from several months ago. Upon follow-up, the company stated that too much time had elapsed, so while they would log a complaint, no further investigation or resolution would occur.

Initially, I had raised the dispute, which should have triggered an email notification from the company. However, that notification likely ended up in my spam folder and was inadvertently deleted amidst junk mail.

Communication Best Practices Called into Question

This experience highlighted the need for an examination of best practices around customer communications, especially for financial institutions dealing with time-sensitive disputes.  

The Regulatory Basis for Best Practices

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates financial companies, setting rules via statutes. The FCA has general guidance on how to deal with customers when they have a complaint or wish to raise a dispute. Yet it’s good practice for firms to customise procedures to suit their needs while adhering to laws.

Regulatory rules and guidance allow firms autonomy to tailor procedures fitting their business model. Yet what seems reasonable on paper may fail to satisfy real-world customer expectations.  Perhaps when there is a switch from using the bank’s secure mode of communication, there should be a notice to convey that message to the customer.

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Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Practice

Being politely persistent until receiving a refund is partly due to knowing fair practices and being able to identify the perceived inadequacies of the service. Best practice balances company guidelines and regulatory duties since dissatisfied clients can escalate to the Financial Ombudsman. Still, firms ultimately operate in their own interest.

No company wants an external regulator dictating internal processes. However, that very scenario can arise from policies misaligned with customer needs.

Extracting Insights from Customer Feedback

  • The company sent a dispute notification email without confirming receipt, which is poor practice for financial firms handling sensitive matters.
  • Unclear or inconsistent communication channels frustrate customers, especially regarding important issues like disputes.
  • Considering client challenges like spam and scams, smart businesses design user experiences ensuring genuine communications stand out. A single disputed-transaction email fails to demonstrate robust customer engagement.
  • Rather than company-centric processes, the focus should also be on what works well for the customer.
  • Closing disputes at a fixed deadline without reminders reflects oversight of proper case management workflows. Regular reviews can catch such capability and training gaps.

Turning Insights into Sustainable Action

It’s not magic! A thoughtful organisation can determine if sticking to the status quo still makes sense or if evolving customer needs merit fresh approaches. Customer disagreement signals opportunities to examine internal practices, deliver staff training, and brainstorm improvements.

While governing bodies have strict rules and consequences for violations, proactive self-assessments promote agility. 

Rather than wait for the regulator to mandate fixes. Review processes proactively and simplify where possible to aid staff and customers. Confirm business habits align with the founding vision and principles.

Targeted fixes generate progress

  • Audit for the policies that may have drifted from today’s needs
  • Pinpoint priority areas needing updated rules 
  • Co-create HouseRules fusing individual growth and shared success.

Achieving Sustainable Alignment Through Continuous Improvement

My experience highlighted how even well-established teams can overlook client service gaps over time. Jointly analysing dispute policies and real-world practices reveals misalignments requiring correction through training, technology upgrades, or process refinements.

Comparing documented directives against observed actions informs operational needs. This facilitates controlled, internal transformations versus waiting for disruptive external interventions. Proactively validating that activities match corporate values sustains an ethical business as it evolves alongside a changing landscape.

The guidance promotes controlled realignment of policies with best practices through incremental improvements, avoiding heavy-handed regulator interventions necessitated by systemic failures.

Want to talk more about how we can work together to elevate your company through the implementation of your HouseRules? Be sure to connect and secure your complimentary Sip & Chat session. I’m Cas Johnson, The Ethical Strategist working with business leaders who envision a business of interdependency.

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