Quality is Free (But It Isn’t Easy)

In Quality is Free, Philip Crosby wrote “Make a commitment to a standard, communicate it, recognize performance, and then recycle.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You have choices to make:

Will you make a commitment? Or will you just pretend to?

Will you set a high standard? Or will you settle?

Will you have the courage to communicate it? Or will you put it on a shelf and hope no one holds you accountable?

Will you have the confidence to recognize performance? Or will you disengage, let success go unheralded and/or allow your direct reports to remain unaccountable?

Quality is free, but it isn’t easy. Will you do the work?

Outrageous Customer Service—Really?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was visiting my mom recently when I noticed that the senior living apartments she lives in has two taglines. One, “Building Healthy Communities,” is nice, a little innocuous. The other, “Outrageous Customer Service,” made me laugh.

Can you see the problems with “Outrageous Customer Service?” First, “Outrageous” could be good or bad. If I ask my son how skydiving went, he might tell me it was epic, or he might say it was outrageous. Either way, I understand that to be positive. Conversely, if I ask my son how much Valentine’s dinner cost and he tells me the bill was “outrageous,” I assume he doesn’t mean that in a good way.

When you open yourself and your company up to ridicule, you’d better be extra vigilant in managing your brand. Otherwise, you may go from attempting to provide “outrageous” customer service to providing “outrageous” service.

Another problem with “Outrageous” customer service is it sets the bar very high. That can be a good thing, but unless your business model supports the delivery of “outrageous” service, you are setting your customers up for disappointment. It’s sort of like naming your company, “Spotless Carpet Cleaning” and leaving big stains on the carpet. If you don’t measure up to your name, you invite extra scorn.

Today’s lesson: be careful how you position yourself and your business. Pick descriptive words that don’t mean both great and terrible, and be sure you have the business model to support your positioning. Otherwise, you look like a braggart and a buffoon.

Ask Yourself These Questions [Knowing What You Now Know]

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you are an entrepreneur, you’re probably as busy as you can imagine ever being. Even when work seems like all you can do, all you want to do, and all you will ever do (I know the feeling), I want to encourage you to pause. And reflect. And to reflect, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is working right now?How can you leverage that/do more of that/have more done within your company?
  • What’s not working right now? Should you take a different approach? Give that up altogether?

Brian Tracy talks about “Zero Based Thinking.” In a nutshell, ask yourself:

“With what I know today about past situations like this one and the way that I dealt with them, would I want to do the same thing again this time?”

  • If the answer is yes, then the proper course of action is to continue the tried-and-true procedure relevant to the situation in an attempt to achieve the desired outcome.
  • If the answer is no, then exit it as soon as possible.

It’s amazing how asking good questions can help you make the most of your amazingly busy schedule.

What Walt Disney World Does Wrong [and What You Can Learn from It]

If you want me to pay $10 for chicken nuggets, they had better be really tasty. And if you want me to pay $50 for dinner, it should be better than the food I can get for $15 at Texas Roadhouse. It’s not just about overcharging, it’s about diminishing my trust in you.

Yes, I will give you some leeway—you’re Disney. But if you take advantage of me by jacking up prices and then not providing excellence in food or service (ideally both but, like I said, I am giving you some leeway), it makes me think less of you. If you do that, too often, I won’t buy from you.

Here’s the lesson: if you are going to charge me more because I trust your brand, you’d better deliver. Otherwise, I will find a more trustworthy, less expensive alternative, and give them my money. And then I will tell my friends.