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Are the details killing your company?

By Jennifer H. Elder, CPA, CMA, CIA, CFF, CGMA, MS, president, The Sustainable CFO

April 20, 2021

“It’s always a small piece that makes the big picture” — Priyanshi Patel

“Little things make big things happen.” — John Wooden

“Details are the difference between good stuff and great stuff.” — Stephen Banish

It is true: The devil is in the details. Not paying attention to minor details can make or break your business.

Imagine your business is the subject of an article about disruptive technology making waves in your industry.

Now imagine the first page of your website has a typographical error — one missing letter. As a potential customer, what is crossing your mind? Are you thinking, “It’s only one letter on the entire page, not a big deal; I’ll keep reading?” Or are you thinking, “Wow, a typo on the very first page; that’s a technology company that doesn’t care about their website?”

Yes it's only one missing letter on an entire page. One letter in 352 words and 2,035 characters. A miniscule error rate of 0.05%. But that small error screams trouble. A company that doesn’t pay attention to the details in an industry that is all about details. That one missing letter paints a big picture of a company that doesn’t care about their most important piece of marketing. As a potential customer, I’m thinking, “If they can’t pay attention to their details, how likely are they to pay attention to my details?” And then, I’m out. I won’t read any further. I’m on to look at a competitor.

Now imagine that you, as someone in the same industry, embarrassed for your fellow professionals, reach out to the company through their Contact Us page to politely let them know about the typo so they can fix it. What would expect? A quick reply to say thank you, maybe?

You probably wouldn’t expect your submission to be returned as undeliverable. Strike two. Wanting to help, you copy the info@ email address into your email system and try again. Only to be returned as “no such address.” Strike three.

Finally, being persistent in nature, four days later you message the CEO via LinkedIn to politely explain the typo and email address error. What would you expect now? Maybe the typo is corrected? No such luck. Strike four.

As I am sure you have guessed, this is not a situation I have imagined. This was my experience this week. It has been four days, three emails, two issues and one direct message. The typo still exists.

John Wooden said, “Little things make big things happen.” To paraphrase, little mistakes make big problems. The devil is in the details. Attention to detail is an indicator of how much you care about yourself, your organization, and your professionalism. Not attending to details sends the message loud and clear that you just don’t care. And if you don’t care enough, why should I care enough to buy your products or services?

Sam Elder says, “Pay attention to the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” If it only takes pennies in proofreading to prevent thousands of dollars in lost customers, why would you not make that investment?

What are you doing to ensure that every member of your team pays attention to the little details that send big messages about your organization?