Lately I've been a bit under the weather, after a long trip, I caught the "crud"; it's no fun, I don't recommend it. But regardless, work waits for no woman, and lately I've been doing a great deal of detailed work, and doing that on cold meds is like watching Willie Wonka at 2am.
Here I am writing to you to remind you that the old saying is true, the devil really is in the details. What have you done lately in your organization to make sure that the little things don't affect the larger picture?
I have some recent examples to share with you. I received the following in January, two MONTHS after I made my gift to NTEN... Needless to say I won't be a repeat donor, regardless, check out the envelope:
So the person who signed my letter, Amy, had the time to correct the envelope with her fancy felt tip but not to have the label reprinted, such a shame.
I guess I should be thrilled they spelled my name correctly or had the right salutation, (I am Mr. Lynn Webster to many) but shouldn't we expect more? If you don't have addressing and salutation guidelines like the ones here that I developed when I started, what are your standards? If you don't have high standards who else will?
My team knows I'm notorious for noticing the details, but hey, I'm not the only one out there. That means that if I'm noticing, someone else is too. One of my biggest pet peeves is crooked labels. You took the time to send me something in the mail but your label looks like it was put on in the pitch dark by an angry teenager? (And maybe it was!)
So how do we avoid letting "perfection" stop progress. I know I'm not perfect, far from it, but I also know that certain things are important. It never hurts to have a second or third set of eyes on a document. Three years into working with me, my administrative support team now keeps a running list of all of my "annoyances" when it comes to mailings and communications and they check off the list before they send me a draft to review. I love and appreciate their initiative. It means I never have to see an ampersand, or a city and state in CT, MA, or NJ missing the lead "0" in it's zip code.
Don't let perfection stop great but for all that is healthy don't let things slide. Otherwise, you'll inevitably end up on the wrong end of an awkward phone call with a constituent who is fed up with your lack of attention to detail.
I think quality control is really important in all we do. Without it we would end up with glass in our breakfast cereal or horse meat in our dinner... Er, uhm... Yeah, about that.
At the minimum, we can try to protect the standards of our organization and ensure that the donor experience is one that brings them joy, not frustration. We shouldn't be paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, yet hold standards so that mistakes become more difficult to make and things don't just slide by.
In today's world, and I think always, there is so much that remains out of our control, and boy do we like control! But having standards and high expectations falls to us, no matter how tired, how routine, how unimportant it seems, to someone it matters.
Do you have examples of great quality control you've built into your processes? I would love to see examples! Caught any glaring mistakes recently? Send them my way, I'll put them on the interwebs! ;)