One of the main messages of Golden Rule Now is that people should not let their humanity hide behind the corporate veil. People make up corporations and carry out its work. In almost all cases, a corporation exists to help others solve human problems, even when those humans are at other entities. Corporations are legal risk mitigating buckets, not places where a person can avoid the Golden Rule of treating people the way they would want to be treated in the same situation.
In other words, if you run a business, agency, or country you may be legally allowed to fight valid claims or dodge justice, but as a corporate agent, you should seek to fulfill your obligations just as you would to a neighbor down the street. It’s likely cheaper and faster to treat people the way you want to be treated in the same situation.
Seth Godin wrote to remind business people and lawyers alike that corporations are not people. This was in response to Progressive Insurance’s fight to avoid a claim by Matt Fisher.
Your company or agency will always be seen as a monolith to outsiders, which does not mean it should act like a kafka-esque, nameless, souless, unstoppable machine.
I bet Progressive’s lawyers fight just as hard when they have a personal claim instead of accepting the insurance company’s explanation.
Only a Golden Rule Culture Can Make a Difference
While I am unfamiliar with the legal options Progressive has, and I am sure their contract and State law allow them to fight even clear cut claims, this is not the way to run a business.
Would Flo do her best to avoid a valid claim? She seems so nice and bubbly, like she would never sell you an exploding policy. But Progressive’s actions (or the actions and choices of its lawyers and adjustors) say otherwise. We might imagine the following scene:
Flo taking a break from her store, heading to a back room, marked “Employees Only.” We find the dark mahogany room filled with cigar smoke.
As she walks in, a flunky shuts the door and another flunky hands her a large Stogie. She shoos him away. As he runs in fear, her countenance turns dark and she somehow is in black and white.
She slowly walks to the board table and says, “Boys, I just brought in another million policies below rate. Be sure I don’t have to pay on these or you’re out. If you do well, I might give you your bonuses. Now get back to work.”
Is Flo what we see on the commercial, or is she someone else?
Pro Tip: It’s cheaper in the long run to pay up a contract than be inhuman. – Click to Tweet
Stay Consistent in Image and Action to Deliver Remarkable Results
Progressive’s inconsistency between image portrayed and action taken is what ruins companies’ reputations. It is this kind of inconsistency which goes viral on the internet, and not in the way the Marketing team intended.
Now I am sure the actress who portrays “Flo” would love to stay out of the controversy so she can keep a good gig. She may also find it difficult to see her image on twitter providing a terrible automated message.
If I were Stephanie, I would also find it hard to walk away from being paid well even if my employer betrayed my work so easily. I might even suggest an apology ad, even making reference to the use of Flo’s image on the Twitter feed in this instance.
Other corporations are at fault too. The other day, United revealed to the world it made a choice to not be responsible for unaccompanied children flying with them. United would not even take the child between gates to make their own connections, instead having the airport porters handle the situation. Given United’s disaster with breaking guitars and three-day delays, you would think someone would try to fix their training and culture.
And the CEO of Aetna personally authorized a claim for cancer treatment that should have been covered, but which had been denied by robotic policies. It is wonderful that he stepped up and stayed human, however, I believe a great company doesn’t require the CEO to step up. A great company hires and trains the right people to believe in the Golden Rule. A great company has employees who feel they can make a decision like that on their own, without require five levels of sign offs.
If your CEO needs to get involved in a situation like this, then she and the rest of the firm have failed to live up to their image and culture, no matter how many dollars are spent on mission statements, vision, “values”, and marketing. There is only one value, and it is to treat people the way you would want to be treated in the same situation. The Golden Rule.
When you have a Golden Rule Culture where people are encouraged to ask if their action or policy is the way they would want to be treated in the same situation, you will have far fewer inconstancies between image and action. I hate to bring them up, but Apple and Zappos keep their actions consistent with their image because of their culture.
And that is how to create raging fan.
The fastest way to ruin is to be inconsistent.
Is your firm a monolith which allows its people to treat humans the way they should? Or is it the horror monolith everyone loves to hate?
Please remember the Golden Rule when you work with your customers and colleagues on Monday.