I came across a local news story a few months ago that had me absolutely astounded. A health insurance company here in Indianapolis released a statement saying they will no longer pay hospitals for performing the wrong surgery, performing surgery on the wrong body part, or performing surgery on the wrong patient.
What really flabbergasted me is that obviously, up until now, they were paying for these things! That means the hospitals actually had to send a bill for performing the wrong surgery! We’re not talking about an honest, easy-to-understand, simple mistake. We’re talking about removing the wrong body parts!
So what does this have to do with your business? Unfortunately, everything. You see, workmanship and service is so poor today, it’s almost become the norm. It’s become expected. In fact, it’s so common place, people quietly drudge along, continuing to pay for horrible service, not even expecting anything better out there. And businesses drudge along zombie-like, continuing to provide horrible service, not even expecting anything better of themselves.
In fact, when someone refuses to pay for something as egregious as removing the wrong body parts – that’s the part of the story that actually makes the news!
I’m hoping by now you’re seeing the take-away in this… this universal expectation (and acceptance) of deficiency provides a huge opportunity for your own business. By simply not accepting mediocrity, you’re going to stand head and shoulders above all of your competition.
Now don’t panic, I’m not saying you need to attain superstar status. You just need to be a little bit better. Your customers are so used to dreadful results something just a tiny bit better than “normal” will get you noticed.
Start comparing yourself to your competitors, to others in your industry, to your vendors. What could you do just a little bit better than “industry norm”? Could your warehouse personnel pack your products in more bubble wrap? Could your shipping department process your orders within 24 hours? Could your customer service staff answer the phone by the third ring?
Next, start looking outside your own industry. Pay better attention to the places you shop, the restaurants you frequent, your dry cleaner, your automotive service place. Start noticing all the deficiencies you take for granted, like dirty floors in the shops, long waits to be seated even when there are tons of empty tables, your car smelling like cigarettes when you pick it up. We’ve been so conditioned to accept these substandard services, they’ve just become a normal part of business. Chances are, there are all sorts of little annoyances just like these in your own business. What can you do to fix them?
Finally, figure out what you already do better than “industry norm” and start capitalizing on it. Do you offer same-day shipping? Do you guarantee no more than a five-minute wait? Do you smile at customers when they enter your shop? In this day of deficiency, tiny things make a huge difference. You might think it’s no big deal, just business as it should be. In reality, it is a big deal and your customers will notice.