Where to start when thinking about being brilliant at the basics

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Just short of a year ago I wrote a piece called: When it comes to customer experience in 2018, can we make boring the new cool?

The piece advocated for brands to “consider throttling back on our obsession with what’s next, what’s new and what’s hot and start to focus more on the present.” As a result, that would lead to brands focusing on “being brilliant at the basics and delivering better and more consistent outcomes for customers and employees.”

Now, when I have discussed this with folks in workshops or at conferences in different parts of the world, many people agree with the sentiment of the idea but struggle with the idea of where to start when it comes to identifying and articulating what the basics are and what they mean for their businesses.

Faced with that confusion, I often suggest dialing things back a bit and remembering that we are all in the business of building better relationships with our customers and our people.

Therefore, would that then not be a good place to start i.e. the relationships that we have with our customers and our people and the things that we do to support those relationships?

I would argue that if every business was to go back to the basics of building relationships, with their customers and their people, and operated under some basic principles and behaviour standards then that would go a long way towards helping us be brilliant at the basics. In addition, I believe we’d also see a marked improvement in service and experience levels as well as improvements in customer retention and loyalty.

So, here’s my two-penneth around 6 simple relationship and behaviour standards* that, I hope, could act as a decent starting point:

  1. Be polite and courteous to each other. I think there is truth in the saying “manners maketh man (or woman)” and that we all like to treated with courtesy and politeness. Even in this fast paced, AI-infused, 24/7/365 era that we live in this type of behaviour still stands out whether you are receiving service, delivering service or helping those that do.
  2. Give everyone your respect. Whether that someone is your customer, a potential customer, someone you are managing, a teammate or a supplier…… giving someone your respect and treating them with respect is one of the highest honours that you can give a person. Also, when you do that it tends to bring out the best in them too.
  3. Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. Most human beings are hard-wired to avoid or minimise risk and uncertainty. Helping people do that is the bedrock of trust and credibility. Oh, and don’t over-engineer it by thinking about under-promising and over delivering. People see through that pretty quickly. Keep it simple. Promise and then deliver. Easy to say. Harder to do. Those that do that simple thing well really stand out.
  4. Be punctual. Time is our most precious resource and seems to be becoming more and more precious. So respecting someone’s time and making sure something happens when it is supposed to can speak volumes about how much you care about and respect the other person’s time. Here’s some ideas of how that could work in practice: Show up for meetings on time if not 5 mins early, never over-run when presenting at a conference or delivering a workshop, if someone has to wait in a queue then keep that time as short as possible, give them an idea of how long their wait will be, keep them updated and, if they are waiting on the phone, give them a call-back option.
  5. Be honest. I believe that most people just want others to be straight with them. Trust us and tell us the truth. Most of the time we can handle it. And, even if we can’t handle it or it upsets us, we’ll respect you for being honest with us.
  6. Be open. Great ideas can come from anywhere and we do our customers, our people, and ourselves a great disservice by not listening and learning from diverse sources. When things get busy this is one of the first principles to slip as listening and being open to new ideas and approaches takes time, effort and attention. If you want to be brilliant at this ‘basic’ then you have to make the time.

These are 6 starter principles.

What do you think? Agree?

Can you think of a 7th? Or, an 8th?

I would argue that each of these on their own cannot be argued against.

But, when combined and and implemented I think they become a powerful foundation for better relationships with our people and our customers and helping us on our road towards being brilliant at the basics.

*Note: These principles are an updated and edited version of principles contained in The RARE Manifesto: What if….?, which appeared on the ChangeThis.org site nearly 7 years ago.

Image: Brilliant by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

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