EXCELLENCE: The Moving Target We All Try To Hit
by Compass Cleaning Solutions • July 28, 2016
What do you think of when you try to describe excellence? Above average? The best? Without comparison? Superior? Its harder to define than you think. Is your standard the same as mine? Who’s standard is right? How can a company, any company, know if they are providing excellence in their product and service? Excellence to some degree is like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And then there is the question of measurement. How do I measure whether we are providing excellent service or not? If I believe we are providing excellent service but my client doesn’t, am I providing excellent service? Defining excellence in some ways is like nailing Jello to a wall.
I tend to think excellence is an attitude that expresses itself in action and conduct. Whenever I experience excellence in a product or service I’m usually surprised, aren’t you. Why is that? Because I have an expectation that is dominated by the average and ordinary. We are in business to provide our clients with a service that, at minimum, meets all of their expressed expectations. While we want to know and fulfill what is expected, this only tells us where to start. Surprising our client is what we are after. Performing in a way that is unexpected, that is memorable. That’s excellence.
We also have our own internal standards as well. As a commercial cleaning company, we determined from the beginning to set standards that were well beyond what we were able to achieve at the time. For example, we determined that we would set an absolute time limit on problem resolution. This forced us to move quickly and with purpose. It meant we would never leave loose ends hanging for days or even hours. We determined that we would adopt technologies and ‘green’ products that were on the cutting edge in order to improve our efficiency, safety and quality of service even when others told us it was ‘just a fad’. We have predetermined the parameters of what is expected by our staff and vendors as well.
Everything each person does is directed toward satisfying the expectations of the client.
But in order for the relationship to work it requires the client to play a role as well. We need the client to be completely forthcoming about all expectations. I believe we are very good at meeting our clients expectations, but we are not mind readers. We need the client to clearly explain what is desired and inform us if those expectations change. When we know what is expected we know what to do to exceed that expectation to provide the client with excellence in service.
So, what is excellence? On a philosophical level it begins with a determination to be the best at what you do everyday. Practically speaking it is when a client clearly and unmistakably outlines all service expectations and the business surprises the client by exceeding those expectations. When was the last time a business (in our case a cleaning service) surprised you by doing more than you expected? Is it time to expect more? Is it time to give more? Surprise a client this week.
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