When there's a gap between someone doing her job and doing the right thing, then management has failed.
Plenty of customer service people would like to do the right thing. They'd like to fix the problem that's presented to them. But frustration hits when the policies and procedures and metrics they've been given to work with won't let them.
For the last two weeks, the audio version of The Dip has been for sale at the iTunes music store. And for many iPods, it doesn't work. I know because hundreds of people have written to me and let me know. These hundreds of people have written to Apple, too, and they've shared their notes with me.
In general, the responses from Apple are respectful and straightforward. But none of them have addressed the problem. Apple could easily take the product down. Or they could change the description in the store with a note that says, "sorry, but it doesn't work on some iPods, we're working on it", or they could email everyone who had bought one and let them know what the plans are. And, yes, they could fix it.
The amazing thing is that except for the last choice, each item is free, quick and relatively easy. If the head of the iTunes store focused on this for ten seconds, the problem would go away. The problem is a lack of alignment. For a service rep in this particular situation, "doing my job" means making the person go away, while "doing the right thing" means taking initiative and actually solving the problem.
Getting your team in alignment is perhaps the first job a marketer has to do.