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Vol. 1 issue #207 Nov 2, 2006

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The New Average: How Average is Becoming Excellent 
2006 By Michael Angier

The good news: It's getting easier and easier to stand out.
The bad news is our standards and expectations may be falling.

Last February, We needed some brake work done on our SUV. It
was likely going to be around $800 worth of work. Because we
were in Florida for the winter, I didn't have my regular shop
available. So I called four brake shops and asked for a quote.
One got back to me to ask a clarifying question, but they
didn't call back. I received no calls from the remaining three
brake shops. Not one.

Our son Kevin moved to Reno, Nevada last summer and quickly
got a part-time job doing valet work at a large casino. In no
time at all he was a supervisor. Kevin is a very responsible
and conscientious worker--always has been. And I don't want to
take anything away from Kevin's strong work ethic. But the speed
at which he was promoted at the casino may have had more to do
with him consistently showing up for work. Kevin stood out
simply by doing his job.

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Tom Peters tells the story of a warehouse equipment
manufacturer who was getting complaints of hydraulic leaks
from its Japanese customers. What they couldn't figure out
was that the exact same machines sold in the United States
had no leaks.

What they found was that ALL the vehicles had leaks. It's
just that the U.S. customers simply tolerated the leaks and
didn't complain. Only the Japanese customers felt it was
unacceptable. What does THAT tell you?

Almost every day someone emails us and thanks us for having
gotten back to them quickly and with a personal touch. They
seem surprised to get such good service. I can only assume
it's because it's not the norm. We think prompt and friendly
service is the minimum that's required. Apparently not enough
companies operate that way.

Some have joked that IBM became successful because they
consistently answered the phone. I'm sure it was part of
their success. And if you've called many companies lately,
you can attest to the importance of the phone being answered
quickly and courteously.

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I worry about the deterioration of standards in the service
industry and in the quality of products manufactured and
delivered. As our economic playing field is leveled, we are
not only competing with others in our own town but from
around the world.

What was average may now be considered excellent. What was
only fair has become average. What was poor is now fair.

There are certainly exceptions. There are companies who walk
their talk about customer service. They care. I call these
world-class companies. They have high standards and their
customers continue to reward them with their business. That's
what we should strive for.

Action Point
How do you make sure your standards are not being eroded? Ask
your customers. Take a few minutes and call a few. Ask them to
rate the different services you provide on a scale of 1 to 10.
For anything that's less than a 10, ask, "What would it take
to make it a 10?"

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Ask your staff. They're likely closer to the front lines than
you are. Conduct "What's Not Excellent Meetings". How can we
deliver faster? How can we reduce returns? How can we enhance
the customer experience? How can we consistently deliver
exceptional customer service?

By constantly raising the bar, you can continually ratchet
up your standards, and you will move from average to excellent.
The good news is that it doesn't take all that much to stand out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Angier, founder of SuccessNet.org--where great
people and great companies become even better. Get your
fr'ee copy "10 Essential Keys to Personal Effectiveness"
at http://SuccessNet.org

 

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