B2B International
B2B International

July 25, 2008

Nick Hague’s latest Thursday Night Insight post considers which factors hold the key if you want to push your company on to greater things.

We have all heard the joke ‘how do you eat an elephant?’

For those that haven’t heard it, the answer is ‘one bite at a time’. Okay, I know that this is an old joke but the learnings we can take from this are priceless and are very true when companies want to change from a good company to be a great company.

I recently presented some customer satisfaction findings to one of our clients. It was a tracker and the big picture was that they had improved upon the previous year’s overall satisfaction score and now had a score of 8 out of 10. They could have given themselves a pat on the back and taken the view that all was well and that improvements within the company were being noted by their customers. However, what we know is that a score of 8 out of 10, although a good score is not a great score, and what they wanted to know is – ‘how do we get a great score?’

And that is where the problem lies. Greatness doesn’t come overnight and dramatic change doesn’t happen suddenly in a cataclysmic transformation. Far too often when setting goals we set them so big that they overwhelm us. Also, often they are so daunting that they just leave us wondering how we can do it and we end up not doing anything at all.

In his excellent book ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins talks of the Flywheel Effect. He uses the analogy of a huge, heavy flywheel (a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle that is 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and weighs about 25 tons) representing a company. In order to try and get the flywheel moving it takes tremendous effort. However, with a lot of energy you would manage to slowly get it to move. You keep pushing and after 2 days you finally get the wheel to make a complete rotation. As you continue to push steadily, after a while, the wheel begins to gather momentum and increases in speed without you exerting as much energy. After a while the flywheel moves under its own weight, and this is true of large companies today. Think about it; how are you going to change a company with 20,000 employees that needs to embrace a new strategy? The answer is with great difficulty. However, with continuous communication and effort you will see results over time.

And that takes me back to how my client could make that change towards greatness. They were looking for the magic bullet but, as we all know, if it was that easy everyone would do it. The famous adage, ‘people make places’ holds very true within business as we don’t deal with a company; we deal with people. From all my years of experience in carrying out customer satisfaction research I know that the key drivers of satisfaction are to do with people. My client’s Business Managers were at the coal face of doing business with their customers and so just empowering them to make decisions that could impact on individual customers’ daily lives, such as returning calls promptly, solving problems quickly and getting to know their customers’ needs more intimately, would be that first step on the long road to greatness.

All companies should be looking to better themselves and with it gain a larger base of loyal customers. It is a long journey and so getting the basics in order first is essential. You are never going to be able to totally change the way you do business nor should you. However, what every company needs to start to think about is what the little things are that can deliver the wow factor that can leave a long impression on your customers.

This does, however, beg the question; when does a wow become the norm?