The Tyranny of Good Enough

Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

Your chicken salad sandwich wasn't bad, really. It was 'good enough.' The service wasn't speedy, but also wasn't horribly slow. It was just good enough. The environment was a bit messy and a tad dirty, but didn’t justify a call to the Health Department. "I guess it was good enough," you mutter as you leave the mediocre restaurant.

While the chef, service staff, and proprietor went home that night feeling accomplished for meeting expectations and receiving no complaints, they ultimately fell victim to the Good Enough Trap.

When providers of goods or services deliver a merely acceptable experience, their momentary satisfaction dissolves as their businesses suffer over the long term. In today's highly competitive market, good enough is actually code for depleting customer loyalty, compressing profit margins, slowing growth, and eroding brand value.

When you're enchanted with extraordinary quality, service, and delight, you tell as many people as will listen. Your loyalty deepens, making you far less susceptible to changing suppliers. Gleeful clients engender fired up employees, who double down on their craft and create a culture of high performance. Growth and success beget sustainable prosperity, when customers relish the joys of extraordinary value.

But good enough . Not so much.

When your bank, airline, parts supplier, local burger joint, insurance agent, podiatrist, or music service deliver only good enough, the likelihood of you making a change leaps dramatically. Here, focus shifts to price and it becomes a commoditized race to the bottom. Despite each of the companies feeling like they delivered a competent offering, their longevity quickly becomes imperiled.

If you recoil at the good enough experience as a consumer, what makes you think your own customers or clients feel any different? In these unprecedented times of fist-fighting competition, we must rise above good enough if we want to keep our customers and grow our businesses. The same applies, of course, as we deliver for internal 'clients' including bosses, colleagues, and investors.

The antidote? I often refer to it as the "extra turn of the knob." If good enough is merely the ante to play, what creative extras can you deliver to a noteworthy performance? The extra turn can be added to your product, customer experience, service, revenue model, operations, or anywhere in between. The amount of additional resources needed to elevate from good enough to ‘wow’ is likely less than you imagine, yet the impact can be exponential.

Let's take a hard, honest look at our overall offering, both to external and internal customers. Good enough performance misses the promotion. Good enough customer service drives attrition. Good enough products encourage competitors to swoop in with fresh approaches. Push the boundaries of your imagination to add something special beyond good enough, and you'll avoid this seemingly benign yet incredibly toxic pitfall.

Good enough no more.

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