Business experts


Expert opinion: Why be average when you could be brilliant?

Written by Nigel Scott on .

Nigel ScottNigel ScottIn my coaching practice I speak to lots of business owners. I always ask about customer service – how’s it going?

Almost always the answer is along the lines of ‘Fine, we’re doing well, it’s pretty good’.

I think that’s because if customers were being served poorly we’d quickly know about it and fix it – obviously. So we can say that service in most businesses (not all, sadly) is not bad. It’s fine.

I don’t feel that means service is necessarily good – it might just mean it’s ‘about average’ – and who wants to be average? What about BRILLIANT?

There are a several levels above ’It’s fine’ – where are you just now, where do you want to be?

Level 1: It’s fine. We get good feedback from time to time. (Below level 1, a business is doomed to an unpleasant future as customers, with just a few simple mouse clicks, find someone else to do business with).

Level 2: It’s pretty good. We ask for testimonials from time to time, some people willing and happy to give one. We put them on the website and we get referrals – Word of Mouth works well.

Level 3: It’s good. We regularly ask for, and get, testimonials – we often get unsolicited ones as well. We measure our service levels now and again to check things are going OK.

Level 4: It’s very good. We routinely get unsolicited testimonials and customers often say that they are happy to recommend us. Quite a few of them do. We have customer service standards for our team and we review them from time to time. We regularly measure our service levels, keep track of the results and take action to improve when we need to.

Level 5: Our service is brilliant!

  • We are fanatical about giving customers a fabulous experience.
  • We have clear service standards, we train our team and review regularly.
  • We only hire people who are committed to making a real personal effort to deliver and exceed our standards (and we have a clear process for recruiting these people).
  • We have clear, measured targets for both internal service performance and customers’ experience and we regularly track our performance.
  • We set targets for things to improve and review them often.
  • Finally we have systems and accountabilities in place and very clear – as a result our service is rock solid. And brilliant!
  • Oh, and many customers go out of their way to recommend us – they are our best sales team, we know who they are and we say thank you regularly.

There are lots of things you can do to ensure that customers get BRILLIANT service – here’s one excellent tool you can use – we call it IFOTIS.

To meet the IFOTIS standard, every order is evaluated. It must be delivered or completed:

In Full – the customer received exactly the amount of product or service they requested
On Time – the customer received their entire order within a precise timeframe that was promised
In Spec – in addition they received precisely the requirements specified in the order in every respect.

So to receive a tick in the IFOTIS box, an order must meet all three of these criteria.

Sounds obvious I know, and even at level one service (‘It’s fine’) a business is likely to be achieving most of these, most of the time (after all if it doesn’t, we are back to the ‘unpleasant future’ scenario).

When we find a way to measure all three of these criteria, we expose just how many orders don’t quite meet all three – and we open up ways to improve.

World class service, say above 98 percent by this measure, means that customers can trust you to do what you say. They will come back, and tell their friends, and business will grow.

Nigel Scott offers business and executive coaching in Wiltshire and Swindon. Contact him on 01672 512001 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.