100 Ways to Succeed #84:

If The Envelope Doesn’t Fit, Forget It!
(So Check on the Envelopes.)

My local Starbucks stayed open a few minutes late—and fetched something already put away—to fill my order.

When I handed my other local Starbucks my thermos yesterday morning, they filled it up without question, even though that’s a non-standard order. (I think they under-charged me—a two ventis price for what doubtless was three ventis in quantity. Oh, and they thoroughly washed the thermos before filling it without request.)

My local Whole Foods opens at 8:00 a.m. Several of us were waiting. They opened at about 7:45. And those folks define helpful—I got a full-bore dissertation on various cuts of beef, among other things.

Stanford sent me a questionnaire in prep for my MBA reunion. (# ???) I took some pains to fill it out. When I got ready to mail it, I discovered that it didn’t fit into the envelope they’d enclosed—I tore the questionnaire up and tossed it in the recycle bin. (Ever wonder what’s wrong with MBA programs? Lack of attention to misfitting envelopes! Think I’m kidding?)

Do you bend over backwards to go “beyond the book” to help customers? Do you open earlier than advertised? Are your envelopes the right size?

The 25 companies that made BusinessWeek‘s first “Customer Service Champs” list are very, very, very, very, very serious about the “little things.”

And you?
Your team?
Your company?
How do you know?
For sure?
What are you doing about it?

“Big aims” (I believe in them religiously!) are plain silliness without the “little” things executed to perfection—and constantly beyond the “best practices” you designed yourself.

“Little things”—I love the word “fanatic.”

(“Big” keys to “little” things: great hiring practices emphasizing “soft” factors, great and extensive and enjoyable training, fun, celebrations, routinely using words like “Wow,” managers who are out and about, etc., etc.)