If you’ve purchased anything recently, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the pitch afterward.
They may ask you to fill out an online survey linked at the bottom of the receipt. Maybe you’ll receive an email or a phone call a few days later.
Then they go in for the mathematical challenge: “And remember, anything less than a 10 is unsatisfactory, so if you’re pleased with my service today, please give me a 10!”
They’re so chipper with their request, it’s hard to say no. Then you think about how everything else in the world works.
Children in school don’t get 100 percent on tests just because they asked for it. A baseball player doesn’t immediately go to first base just because he wants it. Car dealers don’t just hand you keys to your dream ride because you walk up to them and demand it.
No, success takes real work, and much of the time your work isn’t quite good enough to get that perfect score.
I’m sure if I asked readers to evaluate this column, they wouldn’t give me a 10 out of 10 every time. They may be looking for different things than I am. And really, it’s ambitious to seek a perfect score in all the core areas of this column, such as being humorous, relatable and grammatically solid.
Then why should businesses expect perfection out of the people selling me a car, helping me cancel my cable service or completing an oil change?
This quest for 10s only contributes to our society’s acceptance of mediocrity. If everyone gets a 10, we can all feel good about ourselves. There’s no reason to strive to be any better than we already are, as we’re all winners on the scoresheet.
We’re just fooling ourselves, though. There’s always room for improvement. The people who truly earn 10s know that already. There’s always something you could have done a little better, even if it’s something minor like more eye contact or less stammering.
Maybe it’s just my fondness for numbers, but I really prefer seeing an honest evaluation of work. For years, I compiled the scores students gave our presentations in a youth leadership class where I volunteer. I really appreciated staring at those numbers and trying to understand what those students said.
Sometimes every number would be lower than the year before. In those cases, I reasoned they probably graded us tougher than the prior class did. Even in that, you could see which ones rated highest and lowest. We always kept the highest-rated items and reconsidered the lowest-rated ones.
Sometimes a low rating isn’t even your fault. I’ve seen technical snafus bring down even the most competent presenter. You hope people will see through that and appreciate the person’s work, but it’s natural to ding someone when his equipment fails.
I hope companies stop the madness of demanding perfection out of their customer-facing employees. I hope they see people learn more about their strengths and weaknesses if people honestly help them identify them.
If you agree with me, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a 10 on this column. I’d be willing to take a 9 if you want to prove my point.