May 20

What is perfection, and how do we achieve it?

Being or aspiring to be perfect seems to be very important to some people, including me.  I was happily Tweeting away when I caught sight of a tweet from a very wise lady in response to someone else I follow. (She knows who she is!)

It literally stopped me in my tracks and made me think. If I am striving for perfection, whose perfection am I striving for?  If it is my ‘perfect’ who is to say that my ‘perfect’ lives up to someone else’s perfect. On the other hand if I am striving for someone else’s perfect how on earth do I know what that is, and again this might not be anyone else’s ‘perfect’ (With me so far?)

The thought process continued, directly relating to the Twitter post.  What actual difference would any of these forms of perfection have on my business?  Would it increase the bottom line? Would it make our clients happier than they already are?  Reviewing our testimonials and case studies and thinking about everyone’s differing perceptions of perfection I kept arriving at a resounding; ‘Nothing and No’ answers to both questions.

Perfection, Customer need and Expectation.

On balance then, it seems the realisation is that the service we provide or the item we supply or manufacture needs to be only ‘just’ good enough, to satisfy the customer need and indeed expectation.  If there has been extra effort made, you have gone the extra mile and this means the service or product was more expensive to produce, but in reality is little or no different from your competitor who sells at the same price.  Is there a benefit? Or is it at the detriment to your bottom line.

Perfection and Consistency?

Surely it is better for your business and your clients to achieve a consistent realistic result time and again, rather than swinging wildly from ‘Outstanding to Disappointing.’

Ultimately I know that my team and I can’t please everyone all the time.  BUT we can do our best and strive to exceed our client expectations, at little or no extra cost to the business.  At Answer it we have a number of ways of doing this.  What do you do to achieve this?  Could this be achieved simply by making sure that every time someone telephones your business, the phone is answered efficiently by someone who cares, can take an order, check your diary, give information, forward a call or if required pass on a message?


  1. Great post Emma. Perfectionism is a trait that often trips business owners up. As well as being a great way to fritter away profits it is also a good reason to procrastinate. My watchword in most business situations is “you don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going” and improvements can be made along the way but only up to the point where they are useful to the business.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best but if it just comes down to ego or a fear of criticism then its not useful.

  2. Interesting thoughts on perfection there Emma – I like how you relate it back to customers’ needs and expectations. Maybe the only perfection any of us actually strive for is in our own eyes and we either live up to it or we don’t, without really involving the customer. As you rightly say, the customer wants consistency and he/she should have that from each and every one of us in business, regardless of how close to perfection we come in our own eyes!

  3. Interesting post Emma. I freely admit that I seek perfection for our reputation and what we deliver. However the perfection is mostly based on what has been promised in our proposal and thus the client expectation.

    One phrase I find useful is ‘Under promising and over delivery’. As a business that gains most of its clients via referral we live and die by our reputation so delivering ‘perfection’ or indeed over delivering is very important.

    So perfection is both a variable bar and subjective.

  4. Interesting post, due to work, I am a bit of perfectionist – self confessed, but then computers need to be right. There is a place for perfectionism (is that a word)? But good reminder that we don’t need to carry that over into everything otherwise things may not get completed.

    Oh did I metion the speeling mistook in your post the speel chequer miffed. 😉

  5. Just had another thought on this and that’s about consistency. As you say Emma, its important that your customers should know what to expect.
    One of the reasons that MacDonald’s, or any good franchised product or service works, is that everyone knows what to expect. However, if one branch of MacDonalds started to buy in more expensive ingredients in an attempt to exceed customer expectations, the results on their profitability would be disastrous.
    Its a good idea for businesses to strive for perfection, but only if their prices truly reflect this level of service. If not, they must work within their margins or they’ll soon end up with cash flow problems!

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