Every time I pass a store where one of the lights on its sign is out--or worse, the sign is broken--I wonder about the quality of the service inside.
In academic circles, it's called the broken-window theory. It holds that when criminals see that even small infractions are met and punished, they know that larger crimes will be met and punished. It also suggests that when neighborhoods deteriorate, criminals will thrive.
My dad had a much simpler explanation. He always told me, "Fix the window or people will think you don't care...and if you don't care, they won't care either." The point was that taking care of the details can make a big difference with the people you do business with.
How are the "windows" where you work--anything to fix there? Is the lobby clean? How about the parking lot? Does your receptionist greet everyone in a friendly and timely manner? Is your answering machine or voice mail message clean and bright?
And the "broken-window theory" doesn't stop at the lobby--what about your sales presentations? Your brochures--when's the last time you updated them? How about your business cards? Do they make a lasting first impression?
You can improve customer response dramatically just by fixing your organization's "broken windows." (So what are you waiting for?)