Why Mediocre Is Never Acceptable

I grew up working in my father’s pharmacy.  It was a small-town drugstore….what they used to call a sundry store because we had everything from bag balm for your cow to jewelry for Mother’s Day.  We also had a very limited number of customers so the way we treated them had to be great every time.  We couldn’t afford to lose one….there wasn’t anyone to replace them and the lost revenue.  That was my first lesson in excellence and paying attention to doing the job right the first time….there weren’t any “do overs”.

I’ve worked for many companies during my career:  start-ups, one-person offices, small, family-owned and giant behemoths. The biggest lesson I learned during my career is that mediocre work is never acceptable.  At one time I worked for a huge financial services organization and we used to say “well, it’s good enough for bank work”…..it wasn’t.  We’d just completed a large project introducing new technology to our customers and the conversion didn’t go well.  Our clients were furious and frustrated because their equipment didn’t work and they were losing business.  We didn’t care because our rationale was “they shouldn’t expect perfection”.  What a stupid, brazen, elitist, “we don’t give a sh--- attitude!  I’m embarrassed now just writing it.   Executive Businessman

Mediocre is never acceptable because everyone loses.  Customers remember their experiences with service providers and remember that you have both external and internal customers.  When someone has a mediocre or bad experience with you and your organization, they spread the work quickly especially in the world of social media.  The old attitude of “there are always more customers where those came from” is long dead.  Even if your product/service is superior to your competition, if the customer experience is horrible, so is your product.

I’m in Panera Bread right now.  The last time I was here, the manager was rude and I wrote about it and sent out Twitters complaining.  I also sent a letter to company management because I thought they’d want to know.  It’s been several months since I’ve been here, but I could tell something was different the minute I walked in the door.  The staff was smiling and happy to see customers.  They’d remodeled and cleaned the location up.  It was welcoming.  I didn’t feel like I was imposing by asking for coffee.  I seriously doubt that my complaint made this much difference, but it might have.

My point is that your customers have a right to high expectations.  It’s really not good business to give them mediocre anything….you probably won’t get a second chance!


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