Don’t add frill until your core is rock solid

A couple times a month a cleaning company comes into our house and does a deep clean.

Every time I walk into the house after they’ve cleaned… the toilet paper rolls and tissues sticking out of the boxes are folded in some sort of origami art.  Sometimes, they leave a truffle on the kitchen counter.

I get what they’re trying to do.  And it’s a lovely little extra.  Unfortunately, I also find things like:

  • Every waste basket in the wrong spot (they’ve been cleaning the house for over a year)
  • The back door unlocked or a window left open
  • A few lights left on
  • Bathroom area rugs still hanging on the door (where they put it while they cleaned the floor)
  • Cleaning supplies left in random places because they forgot to pack them up

The net result?  I walk around the house, fixing what is wrong and being frustrated that these simple things can’t be mastered.  It’s not that the house isn’t clean — it’s that they don’t care enough to do a final walk through and put the house back in order.

And when I see the origami art — I think “if they can take the time to fold my Kleenex, why can’t they take the time to put the rug back on the floor?”  I suspect that’s not the reaction they’re going for.

Here’s the lesson for all of us.  Everyone is looking to include some value add into their offerings.  But you can’t do that if you’re not already knocking it out of the park on your basic services/product.

You can put lipstick on a pig…but that doesn’t change the fact that underneath is still a pig. Before you add any window dressing — do a tune up in these boring, mundane but necessary areas:

  • Billing/Invoicing
  • Production schedules/On time delivery
  • Customer service — access to real people
  • Operations — do you do what you say you’ll do when and how you said you’d do it?
  • Ease of use — are you easy to do business with (functioning website, phone gets answered etc.)
There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond to make your customers feel special.  But that effort can backfire on you if you don’t have your ducks in a row.  No one can enjoy the little perks if they’re not getting what they paid for in the first place.


Enhanced by Zemanta

5 comments on “Don’t add frill until your core is rock solid

  1. This is spot ON (no pun intended relative to your cleaning folks!).

    And I’ll go you one further — as a customer — doesn’t it actually irritate you that they are wasting the time you pay for doing things you don’t value, and which don’t add value to what you hired them to do — on top of the fact that they’re not doing all they’ve promised to do?

    In other words, ‘they’ (whether it was your crew or more likely someone further up the food chain in the org) had a ‘brainstorming’ session and determined that these little touches would make you feel special and valued as a customer.

    When, in fact, had they asked you or the other customers they serve what would actually make you feel special, you’d have told them about the things that really do matter to you.

    Sounds like they might need a “know thy customer” refresher course!

    Elizabeth Kraus –

    1. Elizabeth,

      Yes…that is part of my reaction. Why are you spending time making my Kleenex pretty but demonstrating in other ways that you don’t really care about my house/home. It makes the extras seem fake in a way. Even though I’m sure they think they’re doing something special.

      As you probably already know — most businesses do not have the courage to actually ask their customers how they’re doing. So they make assumptions.

      However — that’s what keeps people like you and me employed!

      Glad you stopped by!


  2. Eric Brody says:

    Good points Drew. Happens all the time.

    Until you’ve got the basic blocking and tackling down (appropriate given Super Bowl tomorrow), sure fire way to backfire on you.

    Multiple times this week I would easily have settled for “just do what you said you were going to.”


    1. Eric,

      As consumers — we all want to avoid bad surprises. If we get a bad surprise and then it’s topped by what is meant to be a good one, it just puts a sour taste in our mouth. But it’s difficult for a business to know if they’re hitting all their marks if they don’t ask the customer now and then.

      As I remarked to Elizabeth, that’s where the rubber really meets the road. And it is also where most companies run scared.

      They forget that every single thing you do (good, bad or indifferent) adds up to your brand. Including asking the question “how are we doing” and responding to the answer.


  3. Hans says:

    We preach focusing on the core instead of the frills in the tech industry. I’m glad to see the same principles apply in the non-tech sectors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *