Have you ever wondered how and why certain companies go from the best to forgotten/highly damaged…seemingly overnight? How on earth did Blackberry lose so much market share in so little time? Why the heck would American consumers accept an automobile product that was obsolete and worn out at 60K miles…and how did the Big 3 not see that this was an invitation to Japanese innovation and quality? I have more questions but you get the point. This is scary stuff.

So is this something that we can control? I think so, or at least change the odds. You have likely heard the saying “nobody likes surprises”, so let’s do all we can to stay aware and proactive. Perhaps the best place to focus is at the client level – it usually is!

Let’s get practical. What can we do with our clients to see beyond the horizon and anticipate, address and solve problems before they become a damage control item.

What if…we identify our client interactions from initial contact through billing and ask this question: Are we compelling them to engage deeper with us or are they tolerating our service? High performing companies have the goal to deliver compelling service at every touch, 100% of the time. They realize that toleration leads to a bad place! I know we all “tolerate” because this is a part of life…but let’s try not to be that guy!!

If you refuse to be just tolerated, here are a few questions to ask yourself and members of your Team:

What’s the difference between the cost of getting it right the first time and the cost of not getting it right the first time? High performance costs money and requires rigor, but the alternative costs so much more. Ask your Team to get it right the first time, starting with the hiring process.

Do we know what our clients think? Do we have a mechanism in place to listen to your clients’ needs/wants? Do we find a way to make the necessary adjustments? Ask them often.

Are we fighting fires or finding root cause? Are we consistently honing our processes or merely putting in workarounds? Quality improvement doesn’t have to be a massive analysis with all manner of spreadsheets and consultants! If we are listening to our clients then we should be able to dig in and improve the work processes rather than spending too much time inspecting, checking and testing.

Have we trained our managers? These people lead by example. Our employees will mirror their attitude and work ethic. Enough said.

How do we reward quality? Every employee and team who is successful in advancing our client’s experience should be recognized. Our people on the front line every day handling demands and issues need recognition. This costs nothing. Of course, some financial rewards are also very useful!

So now I am going to now check my iPhone and drive home in my car that has 200K miles and runs like a top. I need my tools to perform all the time or I will replace them – otherwise my business cannot tolerate it.