The Last 5 Percent

Have you ever gone to an upscale restaurant on a special occasion? The hostess greets you immediately, and your table is ready. Your server is friendly and attentive, and the meal itself is everything you hoped it would be. Your table location, the lighting and the ambiance are perfect. Your server brings the check to your table and says, “Take your time.”

This was the position I was in a few months ago on my wedding anniversary.

But before I could reach for my wallet, our server launched into a sales pitch about a gift card promotion. If I buy a card for $50, I can redeem it for $75 worth of food on my next visit. It is always about the next visit. I now feel awkward. I try to say, “No thank you”, but he has a spiel to get through so he is not picking up on my nonverbal cues.

The last thing I want to do at the end of a great meal is have an impromptu negotiation over gift cards. Every part of the meal experience had been wonderful, but I will remember that last 5% of the evening. I cannot imagine that is what the owner hopes I recall about my dining experience.

Few businesses understand the importance of delivering the last 5% of whatever product or service they offer. Most define “good enough” when they deliver 90% or 95%.

Good enough is changing the oil on my van, but forgetting to reset the engine oil light.

Good enough is replacing windows at my home, but forgetting to pick up nails, screws and used paint stick around my yard.

Good enough is cleaning the vents in my home, but finishing the task by smoking so close to my home that fumes go inside the house.

Most of the time, I am content with good enough. The problem with good enough is that it is not enough to stand out.

I hired a lawn service for two years. Each week they missed one or two spots of grass. It was not a big deal. They always caught it the next time. But would I recommend them to a friend?

Last month, I had Jerry replace the battery in my aging Nissan Maxima. Before he handed me the keys, he got in my car and set my clock to the right time. The one action took him less than two minutes, but it left an impression that the last 5% matters to this man.

In my experience, the business owners who consistently deliver the last 5%, are those who actively seek both good and bad feedback from their customers. Your employees may not be the best mechanism for gathering and pushing that feedback to your desk.

What businesses consistently deliver on that last 5% in your experience?