Lost in (poor) quality

Thisissamstown.Lost in (poor) quality

Be it for startups or more “settled” companies, quality, in general, is a key component or should be, at least. However, this seems to be long lost for most businesses and definitely not improving.

Let us look into this matter and the move over the years and industries.

Let me play my old geezer part for a second.

As per my grandmother, when she did buy a fridge or a washing machine in her younger days, the latter would last for 20 or 30 years without facing any major issue.

How long gone is that ? Her recent experience with fridges reads as this :

Brand new fridge number 1 (bought after dinosaur fridge finally died) lasted 2 years. Brand new fridge 2 lasted 6 months before major breakdown which, once fixed, allowed it to survive for another 2 to 3 years. Now on to brand new fridge 3 which has managed a 3+ years so far.

Expect a sudden death any day.

Well, this is history of product quality.

Now, in my regards, when it comes to a company, quality lies not in the products (well, not necessarily) but mainly in the service – and that means the people and processes. Or the people regardless of whatever ‘bullshit’ processes have been implemented.

From the early days of my professional life I had the chance to be in touch and work with great people and entrepreneurs. Those people made a strong difference in their job not by offering anything different than their colleagues or competitors but by providing quality (service, advice or just availability) which helps building trust and improves the overall perception of the offering, be it products or services.

I can even say that the most important lessons I have learned about customer service, about thriving to achieve the highest levels of quality in any action, were actually learned not in startups or actual corporations but during a summer job in one of Gordon Ramsay‘s restaurants, Petrus, in London.

There I discovered some kind of new world, especially in a place boasting one Michelin star (at that time) and people showing such dedication to every task that it has remained with me since then.

I now am more like a pain in the a** for most people I work with since I want to see this search for perfection in every piece of work done.

Striving for quality should be in any entrepreneur’s mind, in any employee’s mind as this is where the real value is created. Not only the value for customers but also for people delivering it too. I recently read a bit by Dharmesh Shah on company/startup culture mentioning the fact that the culture (or values) is something needed for a company – or it does more or less will come anyway.

That was a good post. Yet, my take rather is instead of writing down some usual ‘bullshit’ taken from the Web’s best 7 or 10 values for companies, just write one down : Deliver quality. And keep improving (at least trying to improve).

Now, what did trigger this post on quality ? I am currently living an unsettling relationship with a French mobile phone carrier as I have taken a step towards changing from my current carrier to another sitting among the top 4 in France, SFR.

And I sadly have taken a step too far already by being bold enough to change from something working almost well to a world of trouble. Shall I mention the fact that I am not yet even a customer since my humble web request to maybe become a customer of theirs is still being verified.

Verified by a verification partner after a first online verification and another step by another partner and, and, and… .

So I find myself getting a couple of random emails, not coming from SFR, with no clue on what the next steps are going to be. This brings me to getting in touch with the company but, being a cheap Internet customer it does seem, all of a sudden, that I have no means to touch the real thing that customer service is.

Here I am now, battling through administrative processes which may have been borrowed from the French Government, not having a clue about where my order (and money) is going and almost unable to get in touch with a single human being on the SFR side (apart from a few recent tweets which shall be great material for an upcoming post on how (not) to handle customer service through Twitter).

With this recent experience, I have just had a look around and it is truly unsettling to see that the overall quality of whatever service or product offered (for purchase) not only has decreased over the years but seems to be hitting a bottom low.

There sure might be a France factor in my look at the market – call it the “garçon de café” syndrome – but I have sadly been able to experience that kind of low(er) quality service even when being abroad too. And so have friends, colleagues and others.

I call that a dangerous trend. Dangerous for society in general, where the standards tend to go down and dangerous for businesses too. No company is supreme nowadays. Whatever you are selling, tens or thousands are selling it too. Not only in one country but elsewhere. In my example the only differentiation between phone carriers is … the color of their logo, basically. Same prices, same phones, same options, etc … .

The X factor here is quality.

There is none; so in the end the choice is a default one (e.g. trying to find the one that sucks less). That should not even be offered as a choice.

This is my point to entrepreneurs and startups, be it for your company, for your employees or even just for your own self, strive to deliver the best overall customer experience.

That does not mean business only but that also means personal reward. Why building a startup if you can not take pride in what you have built, achieved and are still achieving ?

Picture from FlickR user Nicolacassa / Creative Commons – Share


The Happiness Equation — What I Learned Building…

See on Scoop.itEntrepreneurship in the World

Is there even such a thing? Can we really attempt to define an actionable formula for what makes us happy as human beings?

It’s a difficult…

Samuel Pavin‘s insight:

#Happiness is a startup to build in some way. It may also drive to actually build a #startup.

This article by Will Weinraub is a wonderful piece of advice, not only for #entrepreneurs, on both the professional and personal sides of life.

A good read and an even better target : be happy!

See on medium.com

10 great places to be inspired by innovation

See on Scoop.itEntrepreneurship in the World

America’s success has been fed by its innovators and inventors. These sites can lift the spirit.

Samuel Pavin‘s insight:

Well, places in the U.S. but a nice wee addition to my recent bit on #innovation ("Innovation in the hoods") on Thisissamstown.com

See on www.usatoday.com

Innovation in the hoods ?

Following a recent article I read on the upcoming doom of innovation (by Peter Thiel), I did mention that innovation rather than doomed would just need to be looked for elsewhere (see on Scoop.it).

That is maybe not in the places currently seen as the capitals of (startup) innovation.

Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, just to mention those have been regarded as the places where the ideas are born.

Yet, we tend to see a trend where new ideas are just old ideas. Where innovation is more about re-creation of an existing bit, with added functions, added colors, etc … but not a game-changing creation.

The recent fashion for looks, for design, the awards given to the best-looking products all tend to show the push is not on the brains but rather on the look.

This innovation is actual pimping.

So, is innovation dead ? Or dying ? Innovation dies, long lives innovation!

Indeed. In the same way as startups are now to be found everywhere in the world, that there is a strong growth in new geographies, so is innovation.

U.S. cities like Detroit had started it, putting an emphasis on resources for new businesses and willing to develop the city. New Orleans with good scholar level and an attractive lifestyle is calling back startups.

In Europe a city like Freiburg has been at the forefront of “green” for years (See this 2008 article by The Guardian) and that can be called real innovation as not only is there business involved but mainly a path taken for people and their future.

It does appear that the “old” realms of innovation look like they have turned their sights towards business more than ideas. Yet, all these new territories (see Techie.com‘s article about U.S. cities topping the charts for high-tech innovation) look like the new unexplored parts where ideas can bloom again.

Innovation is dead. Long live the innovation … born in these new territories.

The startup bubble hasn’t burst

See on Scoop.itEntrepreneurship in the World

Startups are growing up and beginning to mature, but the bubble hasn’t burst. The nature of the game has changed.

Samuel Pavin‘s insight:

Indeed. It is even still growing, in new fields, new geos, but still growing.

Now I can but agree with Laurie Segall here as she also makes the point that startups are now increasingly turning to products for businesses and not necessarily consumers.

Startups are companies. As such they need to make money. And corporate consumers are the ones who can pay (at least more quickly and more willingly than individuals who tend to look for freemium).


See on money.cnn.com