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"Crooked Pictures"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"ô

(c) 2001, A Few Good People, Inc.

We have a wonderful cleaning lady from Mexico.  She and her daughter go through the house every week and leave it in tip-top shape.  They are happy, polite, agreeable, and hard working.  Plus, they will do just about anything we ask without complaint.  Clean an extra window?  No problem.  Sweep the driveway?  Happy to do it!  Wash the car?  Itís as good as done.  They are eager to please and, naturally, we recommend them without reservation.  They give good service, and they deserve it.


Every hanging picture in the house is crooked when they leave.  I didnít say ďsomeĒ.  I didnít say ďmostĒ.  Every single one!  Weíve tried to tell them about it but their English isnít very good.  Weíve tried showing them, but for some reason it just doesnít sink in.  Maybe it has something to do with all of the earthquakes in Mexico; I donít know the reason, but it is really annoying.  After they leave we walk around the house straightening pictures.  If it wasnít for that, they would get a ď10Ē.

Think about that for a moment.  They are dusting the frames and the glass.  They already have their hands on themÖ it would take barely any effort at all to straighten one before they go on to the next, but for some strange reason they donít.  And by not doing so, they severely affect the quality of the service that they provide. 

Is there some small thing that you can do that will dramatically affect the quality of the product or service that you offer? 

Hereís an example of a very small thing that I experienced that had a huge impact on my perception of the value I received.  I went to a local dinner house for a business dinner in the Atlanta area.  When the server arrived with our steaks, he placed them in front of us and said ďIf you gentlemen donít mind, Iíll just wait here a moment so you can cut into your steaks to make sure that they are prepared exactly the way you want them.Ē

I was blown away!  (Itís been over a year and Iím still taking about it!)  What a small thing to do.  What a big impression it made.  I donít know if that was the restaurantís policy or the serverís, but that point of service didnít cost them anything.  The food would have been the same had he not done it.  But it certainly left me with the feeling that they truly, sincerely cared about our satisfaction.  And that is worth plenty.

No matter what your product or service, there must be some way to improve its perceived value at little or no cost.  To get some ideas, start with others in your field.  What do they do that you could adapt to your situation?  Then look at businesses in other fields.  Perhaps you can adapt the restaurant example above to your own business by verifying your customerís satisfaction very early in the sales/delivery process.

After all, the last thing you want to do is leave them with crooked pictures.

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