I remember as a child when my Nintendo was enough for me. There are home videos I will never live down that show a young boy anxiously jumping with Mario each time that jump button was mashed. I would fight tooth and nail for a chance to try to jump on the baddies and not fall into a hole in the ground, while trying to beat the clock and get to the castle. That game was everything and games couldn’t be any better in my eyes. Today, many gaming consoles later, Mario is not enough for me anymore. I would rather hit my head with a brick than spend 10 minutes making Mario jump and hit his head on the brick. Why…? The landscape has changed. Games are bigger, prettier, more complicated, and way more varied.
How disappointing would a really good movie be that was still using special effects from the 80’s? Probably disappointing enough that people wouldn’t go see it. We base so many of our decisions, consciously or subconsciously, on whether or not we think we will find quality. If you have a terrible experience somewhere, chances are you won’t go back. And to make it even more complicated, if you continue to have the same good or okay experience, with no change, over time you will find yourself looking for something better still. A friend once asked me why software companies continually changed their product. They said something along the lines of, “Why can’t they just get it good and leave it alone?” The question appears to make some sense at its first pass. But think about a little deeper. Our idea of “good” or “enough” is a continuously moving target.
So how do we make sure that what we offer our clients is the quality that they are searching for?
Start on the Inside – Quality has to become important and a priority to the company, to the team, to you. Celebrate the wins with your teams, and look at the losses as things to put on your To-Do list. If the team doesn’t see it is important to everyone else, it won’t come across as important in their work. Setting up the right “Quality Culture” is the best way to deliver quality to the client.
Get Your Bearings – If you are trying to improve your quality, it is better to get bad feedback from a client than no feedback at all. At least with bad feedback you know what you can do to improve. Find out what they really think. Do they have the ability to voice their feedback? Do they know they do? If not, find out the best way to go out and get their feedback. They will give it to you.
Stay Current – There is a software company that I worked at years ago that may be a bit of a sinking ship. Why? Because they didn’t stay current. Their original user base was used to the command line tools they used, and maybe even liked them. As that generation now retires and bright new graduates take the helm, they do not want to use old technologies! They will find another vendor who is staying current. People like to be part of the latest and greatest… is that you?
Pay Attention to Your Client – Nobody likes to feel like a number or a checklist. This can be hard to accomplish the bigger your company gets, but you must continue to pay individual attention to your clients. The most loyal of clients, that has been with you from the start, can very easily jump ship once they feel that they aren’t important to you anymore. This individual attention makes a client feel safe and secure, because they know you have their back and are thinking of them.
There is a reason Mario keeps reincarnating in the 100+ games he has appeared in. Striving for great quality is a work that is never complete. As your customers evolve, so too must you.