What is Quality in Todays World?

Written by Martin Lucas

The joy of getting old(er) is that I can start moaning about how life used to be whilst sitting in my favourite chair, smoking a pipe and sipping sherry.

Ok, I don’t really do this; well, not all the time and I have no pipe and only my (god bless her) granny could shift through Sherry like a Tasmanian Devil.

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What I really enjoy is thinking about the past behaviours of the world and whether we should be adapting behaviours from the past to serve today's world. Previously, I wrote about The Age of Being A Gentleman because the concepts of the age of civility, eye contact, good service, and quality of service are a mini-obsession of mine. Here is some evidence of why I think these ideals matter and how you can win from them:

Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich

Writing in 1937 during the financial crisis of the era (happens once every four generations, more on that later), Napoleon talks very eloquently about that time as being when the relationship needs to move from being employer to employee and instead by how they collectively serve their customers. It’s still a challenge today, we think internally instead of all us thinking about the market we serve aka those who pay our wages. He’s was mainly talking about banks; does this sound familiar? Yes, sir.

He also talks about bringing a focus and balance to how people think about running a service:

Quality of Service

Quantity of Service

Spirit of Service

I find this incredibly powerful for today’s world because, at best, we operate as a society with 1.5 of these points in play. I say 1.5 because it’s debatable (as an overall society) whether quality matters; it depends on each company and the market it serves, hence the 0.5. The whole number is the quantity of service; whilst I don’t think mass production or serving a mass market the way, say, McDonalds does started out as only about quantity, but it has moved to that. For me, this is all about survival instinct and its consequential behaviours. Here’s how it goes down:

Farmer Example

Let’s say you’re a supplier of meat, vegetables or milk to a fast food chain. Initially, you have quality standards and everything is grass-fed and well produced. As the food chain grows, they  apply pressure for you to lower your prices, so you follow suit and have to cut a few corners to address their needs. They continue to grow, and soon they introduce some new standards you have to follow or they’ll go to another farmer, so you follow suit again and you now don’t grass-feed, you use the genetically modified feed they supply you. Eventually, you pass your farm to your daughter; she picks up the mantle and this pattern carries on and on and on.

That pretty much sums up the food industry from the 1930s to now. As an aside, McDonald's was no evil corporation; it began with two brothers who saw a more efficient way to deliver high- quality food, quicker, hotter and better than their competitors. It’s easy to pick holes in fast food chains and supermarkets; we hear plenty about customers losing loyalty as they feel like numbers (same for call centre perception). It goes on and on; we live in a world driven by quantity while quality is dying on it’s arse.

Well, what about Spirit of Service? Meh, does how we treat people really make a difference; ours is a capitalist culture, so what do customers matter?

Strauss-Howe is a science model that has demonstrated the biggest waves of change happen once every four generations. We are three years away from that reaching its full digestion period. So, what?

We are seeing new shoots of change emerge:

A centennial generation driven by a purpose of money for the sake of it.

A baby boomer generation driven by purpose and realising they have 20 more years to live than previous generations.

A yearning for grass-fed produce and growth brands like TheMeatMan.co.uk and GourmetMeatClub.com showing us the way.

A yearning for the return of quality services who understand each of us as a real life person and not just a number.

In this case, I eat my own lunch; there is no single client I’ve helped where I don’t use Napoleon Hill’s three balance points to review how they serve (and could improve how they serve) their market.

Success, to me, is treating others how I want to be treated. Wouldn’t you also prefer that way of receiving service?