Every process, system, or human effort has multiple potential failure points, some more probable than others and some more crucial. I once worked as an auditor for a CPA firm and part of my job was to examine the internal control procedures, the ways in which cash and other valuable assets were accounted for and tracked. I would do my best to find ways to game or rip off the system (i.e. I sought possible failure points) and then went and looked to see if anyone else had the same bright idea.

Delivering exemplary Customer Service requires the same effort. Things WILL go wrong. Cleaners may not show or not do a thorough job, vendors make fix things but leave a mess, painters may be sloppy with trim work, the list goes on ad infinitum. If you are serious about Customer Service, if it means more to you than just lip service, if you are dedicated and committed: you will think about and obsess about all the things that can go wrong, which are the most likely, which will have the greatest impact on your beloved Customer AND how you can best prevent the most probable and critical of these potential failure points and if you can’t prevent the ball from falling off the table, how to spot it and catch it before it hits the floor.

The simplest solution is that your behavior broadcasts your values. If you do not routinely inspect for what you expect, get out in the field and observe personally first hand, your people and your vendors will know that you are not truly committed to quality and their behavior and standards of performance will reflect your lack of dedication.

Closing Quotes:

“Effective Leadership is derived from obvious, sincere, SUSTAINED, personal commitment to values coupled with extraordinary persistence in reinforcing those values. Senior management must set the tone by being a role model. Instilling and maintaining a system of values is backbreaking work but such is the price of being the best.” – NSC, circa late 70’s, early 1980’s

“If you do not shoot for 100%, you are tolerating mistakes. You’ll get what you ask for. Excellence is the process of making the impossible almost possible. Thus it is possible to be genuinely aggrieved at failure, any failure despite the volume. True service and quality-oriented people can and do expect to get things right. Do not get lax and consider occasional failures in quality and service tolerable.” – NSC, circa late 70’s, early 1980’s

Note: I’ve always believed that one key to success was focusing the mind; I’ve always sought out quotes, thoughts, and affirmations that helped me keep my eye on the goal. I would cut them out and paste them in my journal or type out thoughts and post them above my workstation. The above thoughts were typed out sometime in the late 70’s, early 1980’s on an electric IBM Selectric typewriter: note the “whiteout”.

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier