I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago in which the supervisors of four customer service teams were discussing the topic of on-time service delivery:

“I know that currently our on-time processing is at about 85%. In my opinion, that’s pretty good”, said one of the supervisors. “Agreed”, said another. “Especially since so many people are off with colds and flu at this time of year. Sometimes it seems like I only have a full team a couple of days a week.” “You’re not kidding”, a third supervisor chimed in. “And on top of that, people are out for Spring Break too. With so much going on, I can’t believe that management wants us to find a way to improve our on-time delivery percentage now. I know that 100% is supposed to be the actual goal, it is what our SLA says, but that’s ridiculous. There’s no way that’s ever going to happen.” “Can you imagine what our people would say if we even brought it up,” asked the fourth supervisor? “There’d be an absolute mutiny! People would be so demoralized trying to do the impossible. And our customers aren’t even complaining. Why upset everyone when things are good enough just as they are?”

Listening to their conversation, I was quite surprised. It seemed to me that they were saying that ‘good enough’ is really ‘good enough’. Both for our customers and the people who do the work for them. Maybe you’ve been in meetings where you heard the same kind of discussion.

But is ‘good enough’ EVER really ‘good enough’? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

  1. In this day and age, customers have increasingly high expectations, no matter what type of service they are receiving. Gone are the days when people felt like ‘luxury’ service was only for high-end luxury experiences: a stay at the Waldorf-Astoria or a limousine ride. Nowadays, customers expect a luxury experience with every experience; their ten dollar Uber ride should be in a pristine high-end vehicle, have water and snack choices provided and a driver dressed in a suit. In my experience, gone are the days when ‘good enough’ is ‘good enough’ for any customer.
  1. I haven’t worked at – or with – any company that doesn’t have a hiring process whose goal is to hire and keep the best possible service providers – wonderful, caring, thoughtful and smart people – to serve their customers. The service reps I know are dedicated to providing the best possible service to their customers every day, with every interaction. For them, in the work they do interacting with customers in person or on the phone, providing ‘good enough’ service is definitely not ‘good enough’.

So, if your customers and service reps don’t think ‘good enough’ is really ‘good enough’, why would you? Why does it seem so difficult to convince people about how important it is, not just to be satisfied with ‘good enough’, but to actively look for ways to deliver service to ‘wow’ customers in the way they want to be ‘wowed’ and the way our service reps want to ‘wow’ them?

In my opinion, the answer is that many companies have forgotten the importance of CHALLENGING people. And by challenging people, I mean asking them to use their creativity to figure out how to serve their customers in new and better ways. Challenging people could mean setting stretch goals for them – such as finding a way to improve on time delivery from 85% to 90% in eight weeks – and then allowing them to work together to find creative ways to reach the goal. In my experience, most people enjoy challenge: it’s exciting and engaging for them. A way for them to participate in making things better. And when given a challenge, people usually find ways to rise to it: and in finding those ways, they improve their critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities and become better service reps and people!

Another way to put it: You hire great people to serve your customers. Not just ‘good enough’ ones. So, in my opinion, if you don’t believe they can rise to the challenges that your customers and your company present to them, and you don’t continuously challenge them to improve, it’s actually quite disrespectful.

So, next time you’re in a meeting where you hear something like ‘that will be too difficult for our service reps to accomplish’, ‘it’s unrealistic for our customers to expect that we’ll be able to deliver our services on time 100% of the time’, or, ‘since none of our customers are complaining, it’s good enough’, I have a challenge for you:

Ask yourself, and the people you are working with: Is ‘good enough’ really ‘good enough’? For our customers or our people? I don’t think so. And I’m sure you’ll be able to convince them that it definitely is not!