When we set forth to be a World Class Customer Service organization, one of the items that we embarked on was topgrading. We wanted to top grade our internal team. We knew that if we hired better people, that we should get better results. That sounds pretty basic and is definitely not rocket science, but along the way we discovered that we also needed to topgrade our customers.

Believe it or not, sometimes our customers weren’t truthful with us. They might have bent the truth on the facts in hopes of a discount. They may have left items out on the bid walk through to get a better price. So we didn’t set out to just top grade our own team; we set out on topgrading our partners as well.

Today we have a much better cluster of partners that believe what we believe – that mission, vision and values should guide your decisions and actions. We started on that journey by rating our customers against our four core values (CV) – consistent, dependable, proactive communication & do what you say. We gave each customer a rating of A, B, or C (I never got a D in school so I didn’t even consider it for this J). We also had to decide on what amount of money it was worth to have a non-CV client as our partner. This was tough because it seemed like an easy answer on paper, but if the “Kleusendorf” account went away that meant a nice big chunk of revenue went with it. It was easy to say we wanted to give up the problems; it was tougher to eat our own home cooking and say we didn’t want them as partners because they didn’t value us.

Today I passed on a bid. They called and told us they needed it ASAP and that it had to be under a certain dollar amount. I am not sure I would have had the confidence to pass on an opportunity like this five years ago. We passed because the partners we have today have been topgraded and value us – just like we value them.