A few years ago, one of my staff coined a phrase – Six Stupid. I don’t know if they heard it or read it somewhere else, but I’ve always liked the term. Basically, it means that someone is following a policy, process, or procedure that lacks common sense. A process that doesn’t benefit either the customer or the business, but is followed simply because it has always been done that way, or open for so much interpretation that it can’t be consistently followed. Or worse, the rules around the process are so rigid it allows no leeway allowing for common sense.
This was on my mind this week because I had two different experiences illustrating the concept of Six Stupid.
The first is related to the satellite radio in our minivan. We bought the van a few months ago, and the XM radio offered free service for the first three months. I enjoyed the service, but it was my wife’s vehicle and she had no interest in it. Then I got an offer in the mail for a significant discount on the service. Normally $15 per month, the offer was for 1/2 off for the first year. Given how little the service was used, I didn’t feel it was worth $15, but I did like using it when I was in the van so $7 would be acceptable. In fact, I wanted to subscribe for two or even three years. When I called, I found out that if I subscribed for the longer term, the ‘deal’ got worse. For two years, it dropped to 5 months free; at three years it was only 3 months free. No amount of arguing with the rep on the phone – or later during an email conversation with their customer service – would convince them that a worse deal for the longer period did not make sense. Ultimately, I passed on subscribing to the service. Their inflexible policy made sure I didn’t get what I wanted and they missed out on a new customer.
The next example of Six Stupid is related to my auto insurance company. As noted above, we have a fairly new minivan, and unfortunately we caught a rock at some point and put a large crack on the passenger side of the windshield. I called Allstate and they sent SafeLite glass out to replace it. About two weeks after they installed the glass, we caught another pebble, this time on the drivers side. It was just a very tiny, barely noticeable chip, nothing I was worried about. Shortly afterward, the molding on the passenger side of the windshield came loose, causing enormous wind noise. I called Allstate and let them know and they were going to send SafeLite back out for a warranty repair. Then I made the mistake of mentioning the chip, thinking that as long as they were sending someone out to fix the molding they could repair the tiny chip at the same time. To my shock, I was informed that the tiny chip invalidated the entire warranty on the windshield and suddenly the molding repair became a big deal. No amount of arguing or cajoling would change their mind. Eventually, we took it by our local agents office and they were able to work it out for us, but it was a very frustrating experience – if not for the efforts of my local agent they would have lost me as a customer.
To avoid Six Stupid, try to look at your processes, policies, or procedures from the point of view of your customers. They’re more than happy to give you their opinion, and Six Stupid policies tend to jump right out at them.