I’m often struck by how many businesses look for silver bullets. Other people’s silver bullets at that. We want to visit this or that, we want to copy this or that, where can I get an idea for x or y.

One thing I’ve learned from nearly 15+  years of judging awards is that silver bullets don’t work. The best businesses realise they need  to connect everything, deliver consistently to their promise and work really really hard at making brilliant basics feel exciting. They need all the factors to be aligned around something – a common vision, a purpose or a set of values for example.

One of the companies which has made an outstanding differentiation from brilliant basics and sticking to its values is first direct. I interviewed one of the early MDs of first direct, Kevin Newman. One thing he said has stuck in my mind.

“Culture comes from leadership. I have a strong philosophy that the level of service to any set of customers is related to the culture of the company. If an agent is in the 8th hour of their shift our whole business is down to the way they speak to that customer. That’s driven by how they feel about themselves. We have to make people feel valued. You can’t force it – they feel it or they don’t.”

You can read more about first direct’s DNA on our white paper 100 things you can learn from first direct.

Of course its much harder to focus for years on brilliant basics – delivering what customers want and doing it really really well. Its harder to be famous for it, Its hard to do. You have to align so many factors from brand to sales experience to service to process to infrastructure. It isn’t all shiny and fast like a silver bullet. But it is what customers appreciate.

So what brought these thoughts to mind? 2 things.

1) This morning I screwed up the location for a meeting by forgetting part of our own brilliant basics. Setting up a meeting to work.

2) The awards I was at last week and why some people won and some people didn’t. You can see some brilliant learning case studies on the finalists at the Professional Planning Forum Awards.

It was great to see DRL (Appliances Online) add the overall award to their European Contact Centre win using our “Best Service Is No Service” approach. You can download the case study if you want.

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