Judge a book by its cover; Judge a company by its office

My new interest in life is something completely different from my previous interests. I used to like languages, animals, nature, trees, and hiking. Now, I want to be an expert at judging a company by its “cover.” I learned that a quick visit to someone’s office can tell you a lot about the quality of their work.

What I learned is that a good service provider is generally a good communicator. When you drop into someone’s office, the first thing you should do is make small talk. Yes, you can do this over the phone too, but you see the person’s demeanor and mannerisms much better up front. If a person communicates using good English, and thorough explanations, they could be considered to be a sophisticated person. My best service providers all fall into the category of sophisticated.

One of the problems I have faced in judging people based on their communication faculties are that the people I interact with are not native speakers. I deal with people around the world on a daily basis. Americans speak English well. If they make a small grammatical error, or don’t communicate ideas clearly, that is a very clear clue that they are not too sharp. With foreigners it is much harder to tell. Their English is never that great, so you can’t judge them based on grammar. If you find that you can communicate with them and that they are making an effort to communicate clearly, that is very important. Many people live in the USA for years and feel that learning English and interacting with Americans is something to avoid — avoid those types!

The next thing you can see is how much thought someone put into their decor. If you walk into a place that is bare bones with no artwork and no plants, the quality of the service might be pretty bare bones as well. Even my chiropractor understands that bare bones need to be covered with at least something — maybe a ligament or muscle tissue. Then, there are other folks whose office looks like they put some work into it. Some people have magazines in the waiting room.

I know this blog is supposed to be about outsourcing, but the examples I am going to use here are about medical offices. Just pretend the my chiropractor’s place is really a BPO or KPO outfit.

I went to a spa that had a waiting room with zen pillows, a large plant with leaves draping down, and a very nice Asian looking desk. It was very comfy, but also made me feel relaxed. The treatment rooms had expensive carpet, sliding Japanese paper & wood doors, a towel with three carefully placed massage stones, and more! The rooms were just the right size too. Most clinics try to have as small rooms as possible so they can squeeze in as many patients as possible. This place did it right! The minute I walked in the door, their attention to detail was impressed upon me, and I knew my spa treatment would be high quality. I was right. I judged a spa by its cover, and uncovered a winner.

I went to another spa that had a huge sign saying “Grand Opening.” I later learned they had been there for over a year. Maybe it is time to lose the sign? Their waiting room had a plant and some cheap looking chairs. It was small and uncomfortable. The people working there were uptight and not smooth in any way although very nice once they got to know me. The spa treatment seemed liked the person had never been trained. It was the worst I have ever had and the least expensive. It was so bad, that they should be paying me for my time spent instead of the other way around. In any case, if I had been smarter, I would have known that the treatment would be as horrible as their waiting room.

But, my rule is not fool-proof. My chiropractor has a very plain waiting room. It is the right size and the chairs and okay. Nothing fancy, but comfy. He has magazines and a nice staff of ladies. Nothing fancy, but they do a good job. He is the best chiropractor I have ever used and I drive over an hour to visit him every two months. If an office is average, the service could be good or bad. Average offices are not an indication of quality. But, really good ones or really bad ones are a very clear indication!

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