We need policies. They set the boundaries and create frameworks in which we operate. They can also reflect the philosophy of our organization.
We need procedures. They outline the series of steps we use to accomplish specific tasks.
These are useful tools in your organization which can provide guidelines in which decisions can be made, helping us to standardize practices, test and improve our services. They also help create greater learning through training and fosters cooperation among staff, since it build an environment where everyone knows what to do in various situations.
As a leader, you must build in some flexibility in your policies and procedures. A touch of humanity must enter into situations, especially involving customers and clients. When your staff revert robotically to policy, it can cause the customer to feel dismissed and devalued. Then you must consider the media age we live in. Disgruntled customers can now spread the news of how they were treated through so many sources and to so many more people. Policies and procedures should be designed for the reasons previously stated, but they should also have some flexibility points built in so as not to repel people right away. Many times, this is simply in the delivery and explanation of the situation.
When you are structuring your policies and procedures, especially when dealing with customers, be sure to install a human element. If you fail to do that, you will miss precious moments to connect in order to help people solve problems, build stronger relationships and truly serve people.