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Perfection is not a word you hear very often in customer service. We encourage everyone in the team to always give 100% – or even more – in order to delight customers and deliver outstanding service experiences. And yet, we never use 100% as an objective to measure our business success.

I was talking to a Service Director recently who shared with me her pleasure at having reached 95% customer satisfaction in 2012; a target for her organization. “95% a good result?” I said. In truth, not a very generous response! “Do you realize, if the US Postal Service achieved ONLY 95% success that would mean 28 million items of post lost every single day.”

paulfleet / 123RF Stock Photo

paulfleet / 123RF Stock Photo

We know that targets can distort behavior and drive unforeseen consequences, witness the current scandal in the UK National Health Service over hospital patient care. So why, I asked her, was she planning to fail 1 in 20 of her customers? Of course, she does not look at it that way, she is focused on the 95% success and feeling good about it.

Why is the target not 100%, i.e. perfect delivery? Why are we afraid of it, and set our sights lower? In the case of field-based service, the answer is often that there is simply not enough time to achieve perfection and, in any case, it would not be cost-effective to deliver the last few per cent. And so we settle for less, disappointing and losing customers in the process. Surely something no company can afford.

Salvador Dali said “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” In 1987, Susan Jeffers exhorted us to ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’. In the IFS Service Management team we feel exactly the same, and have two concepts – Perfect Delivery and Continuous Optimization – that drive what we do towards that 100% mark.

Forget other targets, 100% is all you need.


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