We celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last week by going out to a restaurant neither one of us had experienced before. We took a chance, a leap of faith – instead of going to our tried-and-true favorite, we decided to try a brand new eatery because the word on the street was favorable.
Post dining, full to the point of pain and heading home, Laura turned to me and said “I thought that new restaurant was excellent. What did you think?” Pausing to choose my words carefully I replied “It was good, We must add this to our A-list!”
Her response took me by suprise. “What was wrong with that new restaurant? What didn’t you like? You said it was good, why didn’t you think it was excellent? The food was great, servings were the perfect size, hot food was hot and cold food was cold, our tea was kept full, and the staff was very nice to us. They said ‘Welcome’ and ‘Thanks’ and it was reasonably priced. Isn’t that what you train companies to do?” (Note: After thirty-two years, I’ve learned to pause and wait until her questions cease before I reply.)
“Well…yes…Everything you just mentioned is true and they did a fine job operationally. I’ll go back. The exception to what you said is that’s not the service or cultural message we teach. Unfortunately, in today’s service world, most people think that just because a company does their job correctly and takes care of their customer, that’s viewed as a miracle; or as you said, ‘Excellent!’ Personally, I believe that should be their “service zero” – the minimum anyone should expect when they go out to dine.
Let me ask you this, did we try anything new? Did anyone recommend or endorse something new to try? What personal connection was made? Was there any conversation that made our special anniversary evening memorable for years to come? No, we ate our usual “safe food”; and yes it was good food at a good price.
Creating value that continues to outpace customers expectations is the key to long term success. Perceived value is much more than price and quality. Do me a favor, the next time we eat there, let me know if you still think it’s excellent or just the same?”
Excellence is achieved when an organization has their sales and service levels to the point where on their worst day they are still better than their competition’s best day.