Hitting the target every time

Picture a target with the bullseye being customer service perfection. You know clearly what you want your business to achieve and the level of quality and service you want to deliver to your customers. In your head nothing is simpler. If you and your employees just do the ‘right thing’ each time everyone will be happy and the business successful.

You believe that you have described it well and trained your people yet they don’t seem to ‘get it’. They deliver your service and come in at 80% of your expectation. You can’t even tell which 20% they are going to neglect to deliver on so you end up double checking the work completed of most of your team, ultimately destroying their commitment to you and your business.

But here is the problem. Your employees don’t have your eyes. However well you have explained your view of the bullseye, they will be seeing it through their own eyes. Often when they hit 80% of your expectation, they are in fact often hitting 100% of their understanding of the target. There are two targets being used whether you like it or not. You just presume the employee is somehow at fault.

The news from my experience is it’s not your target or your employees target that matters, but the customers target. The customers view of the world. Does what you deliver meet or even exceed your client’s expectations? If it does, how about defining that bigger bullseye and getting everyone in the company to get behind that instead?

Perfection is pretty much impossible to achieve and you will die trying. Too many stress related ulcers could have been avoided if we instead of focussing on perfection, focused merely on excellence.

Exercise – Think about the things you do in your business because you don’t believe others will do it well enough? Or the things you allow people to do, but then double check their workmanship. What are the things that keep you awake at night or that your mind drifts to when on holiday, where you should be focusing on that poolside mojito?

With all of that in mind, here are the next four steps you could take to help you accept excellence.

  • Develop your skills – Read, talk to other business leaders, work with a business coach. The point is, the better you are at realising your time is best invested on your business, the more likely you will reach your success goal.
  • Define Success – What does excellence (not perfection) look like. Write it down. Don’t approach this task in a vacuum, but work with your team and don’t be frightened to work with your favourite customers too and make sure you listen more than you talk.
  • Review – Have a process to review your delivery against your shared company definition of excellence. This is not something you do every day, but something you come back to at a regular interval. You are not looking for reasons to beat your people up, but for opportunities to improve. Again, work with your team. Form a ‘Quality Group’ whose job it is to look for ways to impact the future.
  • Look for Bright Spots – I have mentioned in these Insights before about the power of finding the people in your team who just deliver. Use those as buddies to the new team members so they learn what your company’s definition of customer excellence looks like.

Looking back at my career, understanding that 80% of my own target exceeded our customers’ expectations was pivotal to our business success. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more help to follow these steps.