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Quality, Excellence, Passion . . . You CAN Have it All

By Kathy Marshall, Director of Quality
And Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

you can have it all

Quality is in the Eye of the Beholder

Part 1 of 4

In service industries, quality presents different challenges than it does in manufacturing, but it is no less important. It can be harder to define quality goals, implement quality processes and measure results. Our quality program at Decision Toolbox (DT) is proving effective, and I’d like to share with you some of what we’ve learned. Here in Part 1 I’ll write about defining quality, and in Parts 2 and 3 I’ll cover implementation and measurement.

Quality Brings ‘Em Back

A key goal with quality is to build repeat business. Results are important, but they don’t necessarily ensure repeat business the way quality can. For example, imagine you run a recruiting firm and consider these two scenarios:

  • The client hired your candidate (the result), but customer satisfaction was low.
  • The client did NOT hire your candidate but satisfaction was high.

Of course you want both results AND high satisfaction, but if the above scenarios are the only two choices, wouldn’t you take the second one? You don’t want clients’ business just for today — you want a partnership that works today, tomorrow and years from now. Your quality program should encompass not only results but also process and service. That way your clients will be saying, “Wow, I wish I needed to use Company X again . . . I really enjoyed working with them.”


Defining Quality at the Source

At DT we’ve found that the definition of quality changes from client to client and even from one hiring manager (HM) to another. It might have to do with candidate volume, market intel, EOE compliance . . . the list goes on. This is just one reason that we believe it is crucial to establish a strong partnering relationship with hiring managers — our ultimate clients. For more great reasons, see the blog series “Recruiting Hiring Managers as Partners” by DT Founder and CTO Jay Barnett.

You need to discover what is important to the client at the start of the project, and continue to get feedback during the project. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the relationship with the client. A recent internal audit at DT showed that, in 80% of projects in which there was a problem, there was less engagement from the hiring manager and breakdowns in communication.

Of course clients are busy. Who doesn’t have eight phone calls, three meetings, a lunch ‘n’ learn and a ballet recital on their calendar for today? But regular ongoing communication — maybe just a few minutes a week — enables you to continue sharpening your focus.

Communication: the GPS of Quality

Here’s an analogy: a few years ago I was driving with my kids to a beach vacation. My husband was driving separately. The owner of the beach house had given my hubby directions, but they didn’t make it to me. My husband called to check in: “Where are you?” When I told him, he didn’t think it sounded right. He called the owner, who said, “Well, the good news is that she’s making excellent time. The bad news is that she missed the turnoff about 50 miles back.”

You can do everything right according to your own business model, but without communication from the client — which enables you to course-correct in a timely manner — you might miss your turnoff.

Compromise Can Be Costly

When clients want to bypass your quality processes, do you compromise? It’s a tricky question. At DT we evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis, but in general, the answer is no. Our passion for excellence is such that we have walked away from business if it seemed like the likelihood of delivering “defective” service was too great.

The cost of defective service, processes or results is high for both sides. Most likely it would mean a poor hire for the client and no repeat business for DT. We’re not driven by the dollars; we’re driven by a passion to help clients succeed. And you know what? The dollars follow.

Next post: making excellence happen means making passion happen (it’ll be steamy, I promise!).

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7 Responses to “Quality, Excellence, Passion . . . You CAN Have it All”

  1. June 04, 2013 at 5:43 am, To Make Quality Happen, Make Passion Happen | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] Part 1 of this series I wrote about how the definition of “quality” can be different for […]


  2. June 11, 2013 at 5:49 am, Measuring What’s Important | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] euphoria? In the first two parts of this blog series, I wrote about the challenges of defining (Part 1) and implementing (Part 2) quality in the service industry. In the next two parts I’d like to […]


  3. August 07, 2013 at 7:14 am, The Power of the Glass Half Empty | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] not going all Zen on you. Not long ago, Kathy Marshall, DT’s Director of Recruitment Quality, blogged about this notion. She says the feedback she does get around quality is valuable, but she believes […]


  4. August 28, 2013 at 5:00 am, Leadership Without Management: Pipe Dream or Viable Model? | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] a big leap of faith, the kind required by servant leadership. As DT’s Director of Quality blogged recently, you have to hire passionate people who are self-motivated to excel. But one of the most […]


  5. November 04, 2013 at 6:37 am, Mining for Diamonds in the Rough | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] Director of Quality, wrote about the connection among passion, quality and excellence in a recent blog. In her view, you should hire people who are passionate and motivated to go the extra mile in order […]


  6. May 22, 2014 at 9:50 am, The Tin Man and The Scarecrow | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Keep the passion alive. Passion is essential to so many aspects of our working lives. In a recent blog, Decision Toolbox’s Director of Quality, Kathy Marshall, wrote about the connection between […]


  7. May 22, 2014 at 9:55 am, MORE on Leaders' Responsibilities in a Management-less Model | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] need to listen to the silence, to listen for what is NOT being said. In a recent blog Kathy Marshall, DT’s Director of Recruitment Quality, wrote that the most valuable feedback […]


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