Aristotle once said: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
This is a very interesting statement. We need to break it down to fully understand and appreciate it.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Let’s focus on the word repeatedly. None of us is defined by any individual action, or at least we should not be defined by that one instance or those few occurrences. How we define ourselves and how we can summarize who we are is by the repetition of what we do. Theoretically what we do is a reflection of who we are, especially if what we do happens over and over and over again. Maybe these are repeated mistakes or errors, repeated inactivity or inaction. Maybe they are repeated acts of quality, selflessness, support for others – our co-workers and customers.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Aristotle takes the positive approach to evaluating our repetitious actions. He talks about defining excellence in terms of the good that we do over and over again.
He then uses the word habit. That excellence is not one action. Excellence is something repeatedly done. Excellence is a habit.
So, what does this all mean as it relates to customer service? It talks about the importance of forming habits. It’s the importance of consistency, the importance of avoiding becoming the on/off switch.
If we want to build trust with our co-workers, we need to consistently do what we say we will do. We need to consistently respond to their requests or reframe the follow-up time. We need to consistently meet the deadlines and provide quality work, or let them know if they should expect the slight delay.
With our customers, excellence is not necessarily that one phenomenal moment of truth. Conversely, excellence is not necessarily hindered by that one mistake you made, that one omission you had, that one error you produced.
Excellence is defined by the consistency of doing the good job. The consistency of treating people with respect. The consistent quality and responsiveness and effort to do what’s right on behalf of and for the customer.
Don’t be overly critical of yourself for the one mistake or the one omission. You can still move toward excellence by forming consistent habits of great customer service.
Channel your inner Aristotle.
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