When was the last time you received a report card? I suspect most of you would say it’s been a while. However, if you are involved with a business you probably receive a report card everyday. It’s more of a mental report card than a printed report card.
As each day unfolds and you interact with your customers, they mentally grade your performance. Here’s how their grading system probably works: If you absolutely dazzle them, you get an A. Exceed their expectations and you get a B. Simply meet their expectations and you get a C. Perform below their expectations and you get a D. Fail to meet their expectations, you get an F. The most important insight related to this grading system is the fact that when you meet expectations you only get a C. In other words, they probably consider you to be an average performer of average importance in the grand scheme of things.
One of the main objectives of any business should be to attract and retain highly desirable customers. Simply meeting customer expectations and receiving a grade of C will not accomplish this objective.
So, how do you go about exceeding your customers’ expectations? It probably will not happen on its own. You must proactively think about, plan and design processes to exceed your customers’ expectations. First think about the processes your customers must go through to get your products into their hands or to experience your services. For example, your sales process might be initiated when a customer calls you on the phone or walks through the door of your place of business. Using these or similar events as starting points, ask: What happens next? Then keep asking the “what happens next” question until the sales process is complete. When you do this, you will have a step-by-step outline of your sales process. Now take one step at a time and think of ways to improve the step. What can you do to at least exceed their expectations, or perhaps even dazzle them?
Of course, it is always easier to recognize what other people and other businesses should be doing. For example, I visit one particular business every four weeks. And every time I walk in the door they ask me to sign in and write down my name, phone number and email address. Visits to this business are scheduled only by appointment, so they know in advance that I am going to arrive on a certain day. It would be easy to improve this process. Once you identify potential improvements for others, see if you need to implement them in your own business. Admittedly, this example relates to a minor issue. But in a way, that’s the point – it’s the little things that matter. Often a couple of little improvements can raise your grade from a C to a B. Keep it up and you might get an A.
What kind of grades are you getting these days? What kind do you want?
Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.