The Benefits of Surplus Quality
Recently, when I went to pay a contractor and compliment him on the great job he did dry-walling a ceiling damaged by a pipe leak, he surprised me by saying that he was not done. He still had another layer of plastering, sanding and painting to go. When he finally finished up a day later, I could only tell the difference with a close look under a bright light (the attached picture is the “before”). Our contractor did not have a supervisor looking over his shoulder and he didn’t get paid for the extra work.
There is something especially attractive about quality services when it is not obvious the quality is required for utility or may even be invisible to the customer – I call it “surplus quality”: the additional layer from my drywall contractor, the restaurant-level service of a Chick-fil-A, the car mechanic who diagnoses the problem as a minor one in 5 minutes. At Cannae, where we deliver outsourced and strategic HR solutions, we provide customers with this “surplus quality” both because it drives a strong internal culture, and, in the age of social media, it is the only sustainable model for a service-based business.
I work with the best colleagues I can find; professionals who want to feel they are part of something more important than creating shareholder return or simply earning a living. Pride and a sense of mission come with creating something that goes beyond profit; whether it is cooking the best ribs in town or providing the best HR consulting. I have worked with former employees of large consulting firms and the big-name PEOs/outsourcing businesses. They tell me that when you are constantly pushed to meet the quarter’s goals by billing hours or selling solutions regardless of customer fit, it quickly becomes evident that cliched mission statements about “putting customers first” are not worth the bytes they are printed on.
Beyond creating a strong internal culture, delivering surplus quality is the only way to build a successful service-business. With the greater use of social media sites rating everything from plumbers to doctors, winning over informed customers is the difference between a highly successful business and a surviving business. At Cannae our ideal customer is one who is knowledgeable about our competitors – better yet has worked with them! They understand the difference between a PEO outsourcing model built around standardization and our surplus quality HR outsourcing approach built around the customer’s distinct business needs.
If you are in a service-business, what’s your surplus quality?