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Turning Work Into Art

The guy who cleans my flat is called Chris.

Chris turns my blankets in to swan sculptures. He leaves chocolates on my bed. He notices a dead light bulb and replaces it. He bills us for 4 hours but stays for 5.

When faced with the choice of doing the job as expected, or delighting his customer, he takes the latter.

He is empathetic – he understands that providing a service is about more than just reaching the final outcome. When you go to a restaurant, you want something more than to just be full at the end. You’re seeking magic.

Chris seeks to move people as he understands that exerting the effort required to make other people happy, somewhat counter-intuitively, gives you energy. Yes, sleep-walking through your day doing an average job drains you, delighting people energises you. Try it.

What I haven’t told you, is that one time that he cleaned for us he was late, ultimately making my roomie, Sam, late for work.

But what Chris has is a positive net score, so it’s quickly forgotten. He can have a few blips as we’ve seen enough of what he is about to know that any mistake will be genuine and unintentional.

As a result of his excellence, we work to his schedule. We praise his work. We tip him. Importantly, we tell our friends about him.

We’re a small recruitment agency operating in a market frequently berated for sub-par service. We don’t always get it right, but we do try our best most of the time.

In December, I presented all about Chris to the team here as an example of what we can aspire to. Taking pride in our work, displaying empathy and delighting people.

The reason I’m sharing this with you this is because I want you to hold us accountable; crank the pressure up on us to do what’s right.

But what if our competitors see this? Will we lose the potential of a strategic edge?

You see, the risk of sharing our plans with our competitors is, in fact, no risk at all…

Providing good service is about more than knowing it’s a good idea to do it. It’s about self-discipline – bothering to call a candidate back when you don’t feel like it, running through detailed interview prep instead of just pinging them the address and hoping for the best, I could go on.

If our competitors are up to it, good. Their improvement will help us shake off any lingering complacency and raise the game for all of us, benefiting our candidates and clients too.

Whether you’re a Recruiter, Business Owner, PA, Finance Manager, etc, every day we have lots of choices that normally boil down to the easy option or the best option.

The easy option is to fold the blanket – no personality, no differentiation, expectations met but no warm, fuzzy feeling felt by anyone.

Make the swan.

This post was inspired by the following books:

Seth Godin – Linchpin

Mark Sanborn – The Fred Factor