Tip 56: Bend the rules for your customers

Rules are important to have. They help keep order and are often designed to get the results you want. But sometimes, you’ll be faced with a reason to break or bend the rules. And there are times when you should totally do it. For the good of your customer. Especially if no one would get hurt or if other customers won’t feel alienated as a result. And when your customer knows that you bent the rules for her benefit, she’ll appreciate you all the more.


  1. One day on my way to catch a flight to Greece, I forgot my passport and had to go back home and get it. Doh! When I arrived back, I had just missed the cut-off point to check in for the flight. Thankfully, one of the airline agents bent the rules for me and allowed me to check in anyway. After that I sailed through security and boarded the flight with time to spare. I was soooooo thankful for that agent that day.
  2. I recently moved over to a new hosting service for my website. The new web host wasn’t taking on any new clients for a while as they worked to improve their existing product. But I wrote them a note, explained to them what I needed, and they signed me up. I was thankful for their flexibility in helping me accomplish my goals. Even when it was different from the temporary rules they had put in place to achieve their objectives.


  1. Know which rules and processes are nice to have versus need to have to serve your customers and maintain the level of quality in your business. The nice to have rules may be areas where you can bend the rules if need be. And of course the mandatory ones are those you won’t be able to break.
  2. When you bend the rules for one customer, keep it between you and that customer. You want to make bending the rules something that happens on an as needed basis, not the norm.

Application for your business

  1. Think of a time when a business bent the rules for you. What specifically did they do? How did it make you feel?
  2. Make a list of the rules and processes you have for your business. Identify which aspects of the rules are nice to have, and which ones are need to have.

Previous tips

1-22. Section 1: Build a relationship with your customers (series)

23-48. Section 2: Make your customers’ lives better (series)

49. Treat everyone fairly

50. Play favorites (to your best customers)

51. Treat your customers like they are the most important customer in the world

52. Make your customers feel exclusive

53. Be thoughtful

54. Introduce a loyalty program

55. Give your customers an unexpected surprise