What is your perception of excellence? Recognizing that the time had come for my parents to replace their stove, my mother visited several stores to start the journey.  She went to several stores and ended up ordering a stove from a major appliance chain. After setting up the delivery time, she realized that no one came out or called. Several days went by and my parents ended up calling the store and visiting the store to complain.  After speaking with a manager, my parents ended up getting the stove for nearly half-priced with free delivery!

Are you surprised at the service my parents received? The fact is, this level of service should be the norm but sadly isn’t.  Our experience has lowered the expectations of most of us.

The good news in these examples is that it is easier than ever to stand out in a positive way.  When you are good, people will notice. When you are excellent, they will rave.

This goes for us personally, professionally or as an organization.

Below are six steps that you can take to continue to raise your own standards of excellence.  These steps will make it easier than ever to stand out, be noticed and have greater levels of success and satisfaction.

What You Can Do


  1. Get a current check on performance. Talk to those you served, whether your family, coworkers or customers.  Find out from them, how well you are doing in meeting their expectations. Listen to their feedback. Don’t justify your current performance or blame others.  Simply listen.


  1. Determine the standard they want. Again, ask your Customers or those you serve for their input.  Listen to their needs, wants and hopes.


  1. Determine the standard you want. Remember that their expectations may not be very high based on their experience. 


 Take their feedback and ideas into account but remember that it is your responsibility to set the level of excellence you want to reach.  Set the bar as high as you wish.

  1. Under-promise and over-deliver. Taking the first three steps will heighten awareness and likely raise expectations immediately.  As you work to grow your standards remember that you can reach your goal in small steps. Make promises based on your current capacity, not your fondest wish.  Make the promise, deliver more and then raise the level of your promise a bit more the next time. Steady and slow wins the race – and remember it won’t take long to leave those you are racing with far behind. This approach will help you raise your standards and the trust others have for you too.   


  1. Ask “what’s not excellent?” This question will help you continue to find ways to improve your standards and delivery.  Ask this question of yourself, of your teammates and of other interested parties.


  1. Measure performance.  You’ve set new standards for yourself. The only way to reach them and maintain them is to measure your performance against those standards. Depending on the standards you are setting, this may be very simple or quite complex. Don’t make the measurement more difficult than necessary but remember to measure.

It is clear that these steps have an obvious application for serving customers better.  While I encourage you to consider their applications to customer service, I also hope you will consider using them in other areas of your life.

It’s time to raise the bar. It’s time to set new standards.  Standards won’t raise themselves; we must raise them consciously and consistently.  The steps above will help you take that conscious action.