Make It Happen
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Mind the (Service) Gap

by Randall Craig on August 24, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Retention

Tagged as: ,

How often have you been disappointed by an experience with a supplier? When it happens, it is usually because of a very basic problem: a gap between your expectations of service (or quality), and their expectations when delivering the service. Reducing frustration and disappointment is easy… if only you could get rid of that pesky gap.

Here are some ideas:

1) Set reasonable expectations: You expect five-star service at a five-star restaurant – but what is a reasonable service level for a three-star diner? (Hint: not five-star!) Often, we set ourselves up for disappointment by unreasonably expecting more than a supplier is capable of providing.

2) Communicate your requirements: Too often, a gap exists merely because the two parties don’t understand what each needs. Does “next in line” mean a 10 minute wait, or an hour? Ensure that there is understanding by being clear about your requirements, and finding out beforehand if there may be a problem.

3) Solve problems early: For larger “transactions” find ways to monitor the progress periodically. If there seems to be an issue, it’s always less expensive – and less frustrating –
to address it earlier in the process.

When we reduce the gap to zero, and exceed client’s expectations, an interesting thing begins to happen: our great performance becomes the new norm. Then to exceed this new norm requires even stronger performance. And so on. While some may see this as a problem, the opposite is true: we have created a virtuous cycle where the mere interaction with others causes us to improve.

This week’s action plan: Whenever you communicate with others, you are either setting an expectation, or delivering against it. Before you blame others for disappointing (or frustrating) you, consider your role in the matter: did you set reasonable expectations, communicate your requirements, and solve problems early?

Social Media bonus idea: Expectations are set in the Social Media world as well. This Tipsheet comes out every Friday, and has for almost six years. What expectation am I setting in readers minds? Consider your own Social Media posts: if you were reading them, what implicit promises are you making? What expectations are you setting? Set the right expectations, and you’ll never have to worry about the gap.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Promise Keepers

by Randall Craig on April 29, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, New Job, Recruitment

Tagged as: ,

You probably thought a cover letter showcased your fit for a job. You’re right – it does this. You probably thought your resume was something that would qualify you (or not) for an interview. You’re right – it does this. And you probably thought an interview was something that you did to prove that you were the best candidate for the job. Right again. But all of these things are far more: they are a promise of personal performance that you make to your employer.

Think back to your first day in your role (or the first day on a recent special project): what were your manager’s expectations? They were pretty high – after all, you were chosen over everyone else. And how were those expectations set? Your cover letter, resume, interviews, references, and your prior on-the-job performance. No one asks you to certify your promises, to take an oath, or (usually) commit to a standard of performance, but every time you interact with your future colleagues and managers, you are making commitments and setting expectations.

During the selection process, all of these are scrutinized – not just to see if you are qualified, but also for consistency. If the “promise” inferred by your resume is different than your performance in an interview, then you are unlikely to be called back. The same is true for business proposals: if the “promise” of your proposal is different than your presentation (and different from what your references say), then you won’t be awarded the business.

This week’s action item: the next time you write anything, ask yourself whether it is consistent with everything else that you have written, and whether it is consistent with your performance. Everything that you write or do is a promise of performance, so hold yourself to it. Keeping your promise is important – but being consistent is equally so.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


People don’t fail, they give up

by Randall Craig August 15, 2006

Look around, and you see others enjoying great vacations, fancy cars, and great careers. Especially when you don’t have these things, it is easy to lose your confidence, which makes these (and other goals) even less attainable. While some are successful because they are lucky, most people get to where they are because of consistent, […]

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