The contrary of “excellent” is not “bad”: its contrary is “very good”.
This is the mantra of my division when I was in charge of the International business of Amper. We were all obsessed about performing a great service to our customers, the only thing we had to really differentiate us in a world of tech products and engineers.
We were different. We thought differently even before listening to this great spot of Apple.
We delivered “insanely great products and services” before reading Steve Jobs biography.
This allowed us, a tiny company from a small country in the tech business to win the most important contract in the payphone world in Australia.
I remember one business retreat at the Ritz Carlton: when I explained to the Hotel manager I wanted to start up a workshop for my people (Phds, engineers, phisics, …) given by their waiters, porters, room managers and assistants, he thought I was crazy.
I loved their approach of listening to each customer, collecting her/his preferences and reproducing them in every Ritz Carlton they would visit later. I loved this concept of seeing a customer as part of our tribe, of our family, globally. Thus when you enter your room in a Ritz in Rome, Paris, New York, … you find your preferite flowers, your pillow is sinthetic because they know you are allergic to duck feathers, they serve you green tee by default because they know you do not like coffee, …
They make you feel at home: only somebody who loves you remember you do not like tomatoes or you prefer your beef almost row: your mother, your sister, your fiancé, your granma, … and at the Ritz.
I married my wife on July 25th, 1997 at 12:00: all my customers were invited and knew it but the Australians could not come.
At 11:55 I received a call on my mobile phone: I was entering the church but I picked up the handset for “a customer with a problem” was my priority then; she was Janet Sayer, Australian Telstra payphone CEO. She said she just won a dinner with her boss for she bet that my mobile phone would be on even during my wedding ceremony. Then she said: “Antonio, please swithch off the mobile now or pass me through the priest in order not to marry a crazy guy like you with this poor girl”.
That was my compromise: I was happy to serve my customers. I considered a privilege and an honour to do that.
In our house in Madrid we had two spare bedrooms for hosting my customers when they visited Madrid (now they are my kids rooms). I cooked for them with pleasure, fixed a lot of problems and I considered them as partners: a sale was not good until it was good for my customers.
It does not really matter if your business is small or big: your company, your brand importance will be proportional to how big are your promises, the ones you respect and deliver, even though you have to loose some money sometimes.
The Chinese say:” If you can not smile, why are you opening a shop?”