I bet I’m not the only one to do this, especially when a thought jumps into your head. You grab your phone and start looking up things on a whim. So recently I found myself watching YouTube clips of this year’s London Marathon and the world class athlete, Kenenisa Bekele. He is one of my very favourite athletes, especially as he continues his transition from track to road
The race was fascinating to watch, as he recovered from a horrendous middle race blip to finish a very close second. What was even more amazing was that he lost the race because he wasn’t able to train for three weeks due to illness.
Fine margins make the difference at the very highest level, along with relentless hard work and focus; and because he couldn’t put the hard work in for 3 weeks he didn’t have the “edge” that has made him one of the all-time great athletes. Fine margins indeed. He has been an athlete all his life, yet the lost training time meant he wasn’t at the absolute peak of his powers.
This made me think about business and what it takes to achieve World Class status, and I have been fortunate to work for several World Class organisations in my career. There is simply no place for standing still, there has to be a relentless seeking and finding continuous improvement, and certainly no room for complacency when it comes to providing truly outstanding customer service- first time, on time and every time.
When you Google the phrase ‘world-class company’ the first thing that comes up is a definition from ‘Operations Management for Dummies’*. You know, the yellow and black books which break complex concepts down into every day examples.
Its definition reads –
What makes a company world-class, or the best at what it does? A firm’s operations are a pivotal element in what customers’ experience…So what makes the operations behind a product or service world class? Consider these common characteristics of companies that are generally considered to be world class.
- Know thyself
- Possess profound knowledge of the customer
- Adapt to change
- Get better all the time
- Appreciate employees
- Pay constant attention to product offerings
- Use relevant process metrics
- Balance respect and expectation for the supply chain
- Avoid unnecessary complexity
And you know what – I reckon they’re right. In order to be world-class, the very best in your field and a standard of excellence, you need to make damn sure that you are forever evolving, serving the customer with exactly what they want and be true to your brand identity. If you want to be the best at selling houses, then don’t start selling cars.
I’ve been caught using a phrase recently which I pretty much love, ‘High Tech, High Touch’. By this I mean the combination of employing the very best in innovative technology with personal service that meets the clients’ needs. Why do we love world-class companies? Because they are super slick at giving us what we want, right from the start; a service from real people facilitated by technology, designed to make our lives easier.
Did you know that when the first ATM machine was developed, the idea of the PIN number being only four digits long came from the British inventor putting himself in the customer’s shoes? He knew that the typical user (in this case his wife) could easily recall four numbers in sequence when under pressure. (I admit this sounds fairly sexist, but it applies to me too. How excruciating is that feeling when you forget your PIN number and have your card frozen – a situation which would happen all the more often if my PIN was longer than four digits) An early example of the ‘High Tech, High Touch’ concept – and as we know, the ‘hole in the wall’ and ‘PIN number’ are now a global phenomenon.
But as the world-class definition tells us, in order to remain at the top, evolution must happen – which is why the PIN number has started to be replaced by the ‘tap and go’, in card form and via your mobile.
When I first joined My Home Move, we talked about eWay, our online case management service which could be accessed on a PC or laptop. This was our PIN number moment, and that was two years go. I’m please to say that we have evolved and eWay has developed to be accessible 24/7 from a smartphone or tablet. And last month, we became the first UK conveyancer to announce plans for Voice Biometrics, to safeguard our clients, lenders and introducers from online fraud.
And while our technology has evolved, so have our people. Today we have over 700 people working for My Home Move – all of which have a direct responsibility for delivering exceptional customer care. In return we provide flexible working opportunities, great staff benefits, state of the art offices and continuous career development, education and training.
Are we world-class? I’d say yes. If you’d like to find out for yourself exactly how we tick every box on the list, then why not come and see for yourself….