Mistakes, blunders, and customer-related issues are bound to happen.

Most of us have employees and they’re expected to do things by the book, but what happens when the book is wrong is what’s most important.

Take the story of John Barrier.

John had been doing business with the same bank for over the 30 years. He was a wealthy man, and the true definition of a valuable and loyal customer.

But a single visit to the bank would change everything.

John had been to the bank hundreds and maybe even thousands of times. This day was unlike any other day except John was dressed in shabby and dirty work clothes after putting in a long day at work.

John parked his truck, entered the bank, and had the teller cash a cheque. He then retrieved his parking ticket from his pocket and asked the teller to validate his ticket.

The teller refused his request.

I’m sorry,” she said, “we only validate tickets when a customer has made a transaction and cashing a check isn’t considered a transaction.”

John was confused by the response and asked to speak the manager. The manager arrived and gave John a slow, demeaning look up and down.

The manager also refused to validate the ticket. The policy is policy, after all.

John responded as many would, “Fine, you don’t need me and I don’t need you.”

John withdrew all of his money and walked down the street to another bank.

His first deposit to the competing bank was for a million bucks.

John later said that the money didn’t matter. In fact he said, “If you have $1 in a bank or $1 million, I think they owe you the courtesy of stamping your parking ticket.

Let’s talk about this for a moment.

We’re talking about a total of .60 cents here. A quibble over sixty cents that cost the bank over 30 years of goodwill, a valuable customer, and bought them a ton of bad press and negative word of mouth.

Now the obvious lessons here are, well, obvious. It shouldn’t have happened, and with modern day technology it likely wouldn’t happen today. I hope.

But there’s a bigger lesson for all of us besides the obvious, and it’s today’s Tuesday Tidbit.

Processes, policies, employee manuals, and guidelines nothing more than tools.

They are there to help your business do things in the smoothest and most efficient way possible.

But when there’s a conflict between the tools, your business, and the people you serve, then you better be ready to adapt or throw the tools out the window.

Because if your business, your service, or your customer relations are constrained by a slavish obedience to the tools that were supposed to help you, then you’re sunk – every single time.

When in doubt, validate the ticket.