Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
I would like to offer you two gifts for the holidays. The first is an election anecdote to make you smile. Because I was not going to be available to vote in person this November, I requested an absentee ballot. I received the ballot well in advance of the election and cast my votes. I placed the ballot in the envelope and was about to apply the postage when I noted the message in the corner of the envelope, “Additional postage may be required.” Now what? I had the minimal ballot to return, meaning I did not have any of the additional certifications required for various types of voters. Did that mean there was no additional postage for me? I did not want to risk having my ballot returned. I could just add a second stamp, but would that be enough? So, I went to the Post Office and had them tell me how much postage was needed. Indeed, it needed an additional 20 cents. So why did it say “Additional postage may be required?” There was no “may.” Why didn’t it say, “This ballot will require a minimum of 65 cents postage?” Am I being curmudgeonly or just expecting some simple customer focus?
For my second gift to you, I offer you all the free air you want. Take a deep breath. Breathe out! Enjoy with my compliments! That’s more than my car can do. When needing air in my tires recently, I realized that air would cost me a minimum of $1 at all local gas stations. And the air came with a warning to remove all valve stem caps before inserting your money because your access to air was time limited. Indeed I had to chase around the car pretty quickly and finished the last tire (without ever being able to use a pressure gauge to confirm tire pressure) just at the cutoff of the (very slow) pump. All this right after I had given the gas station $50 in gas sales. Is it expecting too much to want free air or at least enough time to make sure the tire pressure is correct, without paying another dollar? On my holiday gift list I have asked for a small air pump! Am I being curmudgeonly or just expecting some simple customer focus?
To put my comments in perspective here is a bonus gift, two questions from the just released 2013-2014 Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence:
- How do you listen to, interact with, and observe customers to obtain actionable information?
- How do your measurements capture actionable information to use in exceeding your customers’ expectations and securing your customers’ engagement for the long term?
How would the Board of Elections or my friendly gas station owner answer those questions? Do they care?
Get out and enjoy the fresh air (with my compliments) over the holidays! All of us in the Baldrige Program wish all of you a happy holiday!