Silly Rules, Tough Language

This is one of those really obvious statements that we all say, but none of us really “get” until we “get it”.

For years we’ve had lots of rules and procedures in place for our business. Mostly they’re for sound reasons and are designed to ensure that everthing goes smoothly. Sadly though over time things get a little out of hand, and before you know it you have procedures and processes that just add red tape, no longer serve a meaningful purpose. Worse, they may alienate people and really slow things down.

Our business is as guilty of this as any other. It’s not something I’m proud of, and certainly not something I’m happy with. I’m pleased that we recognise the problem exists and over the coming weeks are taking steps to reduce the number of the manual processes, attempting to reduce the number of paper forms, get rid of some of the silly barriers and just make it all a bit easier for everyone.

Some of these are to help customers, some are to help us, and most of them are designed to bring some sense to proceedings. An internal spring clean of what we do, reevaluating it against current thinking and just geting shot of anything that is just a silly rule (some silly rules we don’t control or have to be there, so they will have to stay – for now!)

The other thing we’re really guilty of is having “tough” wording on some of our automated e-mails. It stems from all sorts of decisions taken which made sense “at the time” but again haven’t been reviewed. Sometimes the tough, rather firm feeling language has no place at all (for example on an automated acknowledgement of a helpdesk request), while in other cases it is difficult to get your message across well if you’re too light (such as a “seriously, your invoice is overdue by 30 days, you really do need to sort this” message).

Both of these changes  (1 – procedures and forms, 2 – tough language)  are ultimately part of a massive internal project at the company (which hasn’t been given a fancy “codeword”  although I wish it had) designed to help us communicate better what we offer, help our customers get better value and feel less offended and irritated by frankly silly processes. It is a significant turning point and one that is long overdue.

I’m very fortunate to have some long standing customers who are helping us understand the pinch points, helping us understand what we can do better and helping shape the future, and to those customers I’m incredibly thankful. So if after September you spot anything that my IT company does that smells like a silly rule or tough language, please do tell me and we’ll look at it. If it makes no sense, we’ll get rid of it.

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