According to our system, we can’t help you

The ‘system’ is what employees say when they mean, I don’t have the authority. I can’t solve your problem. We’re not set up for your specific situation.

Which, in extenuating circumstances like trying to take your shoes to a dry cleaner, totally makes sense. However when companies get too big and the bureaucracy prevents them from empowering customer-facing employees, this becomes the default answer.

A system, like our banking system, is designed for the average person. But no one is average, not even the customer response team a customer talks to. If you want personal banking, call this number, if you want small business banking, I’ll connect you to our other department. If you want help, well sorry we don’t offer it at this desk.

The problem is, no one is average. So to scale to the millions of customers banks deal with everyday and the numerous issues they could have, the bank actually has to care. It has to care about it’s employees enough to educate them on the variety of offerings available. It has to empower employees to ‘break’ the system to make sure the customer is satisfied.

But just because your system can’t solve a customer’s problem, doesn’t make it THEIR problem. It’s still your problem, you just have to be willing to fix it.