Barely a year beyond one of the worst economic slowdowns in recent history I was struck by the familiar disclaimer “past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.”  This statement is as true for fund managers as it is for customer service professionals.

But it begs the question; just how good does your current performance have to be?

With March Madness upon us I was reminded of John Calipari’s book Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Success in Business and In Life and liked the spirit of a quotation: “strive for perfection and settle for excellence.”  As a personal credo that makes sense.  For a business, that sentiment sounds expensive!  Businesses need only concern themselves with winning … not winning convincingly.  Spending time/money on perfection is costly… so is spending it on excellence.  Spend it on winning – beating the competition.


Unfortunately, the things that make good business sense don’t always measure up as motivational creeds.  Being just better than the competition isn’t much of a rallying cry which is why Calipari will never tell his teams to “be good enough”.  But in customer service, as in other aspects of business, it makes sense to be just better than your competition.

Old joke alert: if a bear is ever chasing you and a friend through the woods, remember that you don’t have to be faster than the bear, you only have to outrun your friend.

The pivot point in business is that continual improvement in our people, processes, technology eventually stops yielding noticeable value to customers.  Perfection and excellence are good goals and even better rallying cries, but all we have to be is better than our competition.

What do you think?  Is it good enough to just beat the competition, or does it make more sense to run up the score?

Outrunning the Competition
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