Archives for posts with tag: Quality

A while ago I wrote about the distinction between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ when it comes to work, tasks, jobs and so on. On another occasion I wrote about the differences between liking something and something being ‘good’. It’s time to revisit these themes, or more specifically the word important.

When we think about things and events, we often have to make a judgment on them. There’s a subjective way of reaching a decision and answering the question, and an objective way of getting there too.

‘Do you like this song?’ ‘Is it a good product?’ ‘What do you think of iTunes?’ What about this development? You can give a subjective answer, by saying whether you like it, or whether you think it’s good. You can also choose not to answer it and say, ‘well, it’s important.’

You could argue, of course, that you’re still making a subjective judgment on the weight or value you attach to something. My view is that you’re rising above the personal preferences and saying, in effect, I’m not saying whether I like it or not, or whether it’s good: I’m simply saying it merits respect because of what it does.

Of course, by saying something’s not important, you’re also implying it’s not even worth addressing subjectively. You’re not going to bother assessing whether you like it, or whether it’s good, you’re done with it.


I love nuts, the salted kind. I’m not a huge fan of the unsalted kind, they taste pretty bland to me. Nuts are a good way of me staving off my hunger pangs with something that, in moderation, is pretty good for me.

With nuts you pay by weight. You pay for all the weight, shells included. In an average bag of pistachio nuts you get around 5 to 10% of nuts which are still closed or not sufficiently opened from the roasting process to be edible. That means you’re only getting 90 to 95% of what you paid for, and less if you count the weight of the shells.

For me it’s the unfulfilled promise of unopened pistachio shells. They go straight into the food bin or the fire, even though I’ve invested in their promise of taste and nutrition, in that order.

OK, so sometimes you get a burnt piece of cereal, but it’s one of maybe a thousand or more in the pack, which I’m prepared to tolerate from a 3- or 4-sigma variance point of view. But with pistachios, it’s different. It’s 5 or 10% of the flipping things. It’s more real, more tangible. It’s like buying broccoli when you never eat the base of the main stalk.

How hard can it be for the highly sophisticated food production or processing plants to exclude the nuts that don’t open sufficiently after the roasting phase and are not worthy of making the final cut?

Is it too hard, or is too lazy, or too greedy on the part of the producers?

I want to revisit the theme of an erstwhile post on how I often give businesses one chance and then they’re gone. When you think about it, it’s no chances, as their first slip up is their last. One chance would be their second chance. Anyway, with the irony of the blog title behind me, let me tell you a story.

I used to have almost all my insurances with one company: houses, cars, even tyres. I’d inherited them as a supplier from my Dad. Anyway, one day I had a car accident. A tourist driving a hire car in front of me and my boss – we were heading to hit some balls one lunchtime – missed his roundabout turn-off for the motorway, took the next turn, which was also ours, went 10 yards and attempted an immediate u-turn, forcing me to take evasive action and break my suspension on the far kerb.

The tourist admitted no blame – in fact he said .’you did not see me?’ – we exchanged details and so began a sorry saga which took months to resolve. My boss was not deemed an independent witness, I provided all the information I could, and ended up chasing the insurance company’s insurance company to try and resolve it. The last time I phoned I was told, ‘oh we’ve already settled the claim 50-50 with the other driver’s insurance company.’ I was furious, not at the injustice of the other driver lying, since many people will lie and cheat to get out of something, but at the fact that my insurer had let me down as a customer and failed to even let me know the result of the case.

I immediately cancelled all of my insurance policies with them. Their customer service team called me back, stuck to their version of events and that was that. It was like dealing with an enormous slippery snake, with staff hiding under its slithery skin.

Once chance – and gone.

Check! That’s the one thing I advise you to make part of your life and work DNA, if at all possible.

In this crazy busy, speed-of-now world in which we inhabit, many of us are publishing things the moment we’ve created them. we’re getting things out the door almost as fast as they’re coming into us. In this chaotic, hectic environment it’s easy to forget about the detail.

But consider all the possible instances in your work and home lives when attention to the small things matter:

  • That typo you asked the designer to change in the final proof before you go to print
  • That email someone offered to draft for you to go out to your customer
  • The final touches to the room your painter-decorator promised to do
  • The locking wheel-nut your mechanics said they would put back under the spare tyre in the boot of your car
  • The read-through of your blog post to check for mistakes, before someone else finds them
  • Any work you’re paying for

You’re not micro-managing people when you do this. You’re professionally closing the loop on something you’ve asked to be done, or something you’re doing yourself. No sense in messing up the landing when you’ve flown all this way.

Always check if you can. A second spent now will save you minutes or even hours and money later.


These days, as a provider of products and services in either a B2B or B2C scenario, you get very few chances before you blow it. If you’re in a commodity business, you get one chance. Mess up and you’re gone, even if you’ve had a good track record before your faux pas.

One strike and you’re out.

I’ve bought 3 shirts from an online discount store in the last 3 months. It’s the usual end-of-line strategy and stuff. The prices are good, and the quality of the product is decent. But the damn things take ages to arrive. Ages as in a month or more. And it’s tough to get customer service to respond, unless they’ve good news and can give you a tracking number. I haven’t got my last item yet…when I do I’m not using them again.

Years and years ago, when I lived in Scotland’s capital, I used to go to a local fast food place for fish and chips or pizza. One time I got a chicken pizza. I was ill with food poisoning that night and the whole of the next day. Never went there again. Did I tell them about my experiences? I can’t actually remember, but I voted with my feet.

I’m not the type of person who goes back looking to get a refund or compensation – life’s too short. I simply shop elsewhere. And don’t forget that we typically tell 3 times as many people about a bad experience as we do after a good one.

This is why, as a business, you must have a relentless and constant focus on quality, end-to-end. The thread can be that fine.

Along with trench warfare mentality, it’s a good mindset to imagine that you only have one chance to impress with every customer, every time.


One of the guiding rules I have heard among oenophiles is this: if you like the wine, it’s a good wine. This brings up a really interesting point on people’s preferences, the differences between subjectivity and objectivity, and how that affects the purchase process and in turn the marketing we design to influence purchase.

Many people either can’t or won’t make the distinction between liking something and judging its quality. ‘If I like it, then it must be good’ is perhaps one view. Think about a piece of musical genre, or a sporting style, a movie, a wine, or any B2B or B2C product or service you come into contact with. It’s unusual to hear someone say ‘it’s good, but I don’t like it’, or ‘it’s not a great product, but I like it.’

Most reviews of restaurants, movies, books or other products tend to be either a number of stars, which is a quality attribution, and a thumb or thumbs up, which for me means whether or not they like it, but which could also be construed as a quality recommendation. Quality should be an objective thing, whereas liking something, or not, should be purely subjective. I would like to see more reviews that make a distinction between the two. I’m interested in your opinion, and that means you telling me why it’s good and why you like it. I value your view and that’s why the why is important to me.

So when it comes to marketing and sales, we need to figure out what is important to our customer:

– do they distinguish between I like and It’s Good?

– what would help us find this out?

– do both I like and It’s Good have to be in place for us to be able to positively influence their purchasing behaviour?

– do we want to sell to the I Likes or the It’s Goods?

I think the answer to all these questions is it depends, and is something you should figure out for your own situation.