I heard Russ Peterson, author of Cut the C.R.A.P. and Make the Sale and co-author with Kevin Karschnik, Corporate Ovations: Your Roadmap to More Effective Presentations, tell a captive audience that to get to the next level of customer service you must remember the details. The” WOW” of customer service is in the details. I have found this to be true for any success to be realized.
Nothing drives this point home better than the fate of King Richard III. The year is 1485 and King Richard was on the throne of England. It was a time of instability, and the King had to defend his crown more than once. But he was an experienced military veteran, a bold and shrewd warrior who had an army of nearly 10,000 men.
A pretender to the English throne came that same year. He was Henry Tudor of Richmond. He challenged Richard in Bosworth Field with 5,000 men who had little battle experience. Everything was in King Richard’s favor. That morning King Richard and his men prepared to face Henry’s army. The winner would be the ruler of England. Shortly before battle, Richard sent a groom to see if his favorite horse was ready. His horse was not. The blacksmith had not shoed the King’s horse as he was busy the last several days shoeing the horses of the entire army. With the battle beginning and enemy troops advancing, the groom demanded the horse be shod and “to do with whatever you have”, for the King must ride. Out of a single bar of iron, four horse shoes were hammered out. Quickly three shoes were nailed into place on the King’s favorite horse, but the fourth shoe needed one or two more nails. It would take time to hammer out more nails. The groom exclaimed “I hear the trumpets now! Can’t you just use what you have?” The blacksmith would try his best but would not guarantee the shoe would hold. “Just nail it on!” cried the groom.
King Richard rode his horse back and forth along the battle field fighting and urging his men to press forward. Then he noticed a turn in the front. His men were starting to fall back. If a panic were to start, it could be disastrous. He galloped toward the broken line to spur them on. But before he could reach them, the horse threw a shoe, stumbled and fell, throwing King Richard to the ground. As Henry’s armies advanced, Richard waved his sword high in the air, shouting “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” But it was too late. His men retreated in fear of Henry’s advancing army. The battle was lost.
In the minutia of our busy days, we often rush about in frenetic motion struggling to reach our deadlines. At times we feel the pressure of advancing consequences. In these moments, do not forget the details. They are not usually difficult to accomplish. In fact, they can be so simple they seem trivial, yet they hold the key to success.
For want of a nail, a shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
For want of a horse, a battle was lost,
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
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