Reaching Beyond the Requirements

312697_blogI’ve always been accused of being an overachiever, a bit of a perfectionist. And yes, maybe even a little OCD at times. To be honest, I rarely agree with my critics on this topic. Admittedly, I might be wrong — and I freely admit that — but I’d just like to think that my standards are a little higher than the average bear. And if that higher level of requirements I see as being the “minimum standard” are more than others’ like, so be it. To me, they are the difference between “good enough” and “Wow!” quality and I’ve always been a “Wow!” kind of girl.

I’ve been working on a massive project at work the past few weeks and, while the requirements are very clearly articulated, one can easily take two paths to completion: answer the questions asked in a clear, concise and factual manner; or use the answer as a way to clearly and factually respond and simultaneously paint the story of how the answer fulfills the need of the questioner. Don’t just answer it; bring it to life. Make it jump off the page and be a bit of virtual reality – in words – for the reader. For fun, here’s what I mean in a simple way. By the way, I don’t do help desks, so this is a lousy example to those of you who may actually know this field:

Question: Does your company offer help desk support services? Please specify the hours of operation.

Factual, but Boring: We offer 24/7 customer support services for all customers, providing services ranging from telephone, web- and social-media based solutions.

Wow!: We take a personalized approach to every customers’ support needs, building solutions that are scalable, flexible and customizable to meet your company’s unique business, workflow and multi-channel priorities. Working around the clock with highly trained, friendly associates who are dedicated to representing your company to your customers in a highly professional manner, we deliver a turn-key help desk solution that revolves around you.

My peers, who seem to like the ease of effort offered by the “factual, but boring” path, are clearly frustrated with “Wow!” approach I demand we take. My rejection and rewrites (and a little, err, raised voiced concern) regarding the quality of their submission isn’t being met with much enthusiasm. Tuff tookies; I don’t want to deliver a response that simply meets the requirements, I want to deliver a “Wow!” experience. My belief? “Wow!” first impressions lead to “Wow!” opportunities and “Wow!” opportunities make customers for life. Yes, it takes a little more effort to reach beyond the requirements and bring the experience to life, but isn’t it worth it?

Have you ever shopped from a The J. Peterman Company? Now, that’s reaching beyond the requirements and delivering a “Wow!” experience at its best! Just reading the copy on one of their sweaters or a ball cap is a romantic experience. One walk through their catalogs makes you want to book a passage on the Orient Express or steal off into the night on a month-long escape to Burma. It’s a direct-mail company in Ohio, for crying out loud! But man, do they know how to do it!

I don’t want a life of “checking the box” and meeting the minimum requirements for passing to the next level. I want to blow away the competition! I want to be champagne to everyone else’s tap water. I think the ‘bare minimums’ are for the lazy, the uninspired and the unambitious masses who are too afraid to challenge themselves to put it all on the line and give it everything they’ve got. As for me and my house? We’re going beyond the requirements…we’re going for maximum “WOW!” all the way, baby!

Outrageous living isn’t an option when you just stumble through life looking to scrape by as a result of “checking the box” and getting to the next task. It comes by pouring out your heart and guts, challenging status quo and maybe, just maybe, irritating a colleague or two on the way to getting the team in position for another big win.

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