Excellence is a choice. In order to achieve excellence, organizations must first intend to achieve it. Still, even the best intentions do not guarantee excellence. Organizations must insist that excellence occurs.  Organizations must take explicit action to ensure that excellence is the standard by which all stakeholder (e.g., customer, employee) experiences are measured.
How are stakeholder experiences measured? A useful way to assess the stakeholder’s experience is simple: ask them. Typically, this is accomplished via pen and paper or web-based surveys. Still, how can such experience measurement truly reflect an organization’s adamant insistence for excellence? Organizations should begin by insisting that TopBoxTM metrics be used. Simply stated, the term TopBox reflects the highest possible or most desirable response option to any survey item (See Table 1). In other words, TopBox reflects excellence. TopBox percentage refers to the number of survey participants responding with the highest possible or most organizationally beneficial option to an item as compared to the number of other responses given by all other participants. For example, using a six-point agreement scale, TopBox percentage refers to the number of sixes given as compared to all other responses (i.e., fives, fours, threes, twos and ones). If 45 out of 100 customers responded with a “6” to a particular survey item, the corresponding TopBox percentage would be 45%.
Table 1. TopBox
Why is the determination of TopBox percentage important? First, TopBox percentage reflects excellence. That is, if an organization is truly “in search of excellence” then an organization must decide to measure accordingly. Finishing first should be the measurement goal. The real-world examples that follow best exemplify the importance of using TopBox percentage in measurement.
Seminal research conducted by Xerox Corporation discovered that “satisfied” customers were no guarantee of success. In fact, merely “satisfied” customers were found to be six times less likely to buy again from the company as compared to “completely satisfied” customers (the highest response option possible). Others have suggested that “completely satisfied” customers are 42 percent more likely to be loyal customers as compared to “satisfied” customers.  Loyal customers have been estimated to account for 80% of most organizations’ business. In fact, a typical company can increase revenues up to 85% by retaining its most loyal customers. 
The eye-catching results above are certainly not unusual. In fact, these types of findings are the norm when it comes to utilizing a TopBox measurement approach. Focusing on the achievement of TopBox results signifies both an organization’s intent and insistence upon excellence. A TopBox focus declares that second place is NOT acceptable. Achieving excellence is indeed a choice. The choice is all yours.
1 DeCotiis, T. & Hyatt, D. (2003). Excellence is a choice: It starts with earning loyalty. Executive Excellence, July, pp 3-4.
2 Jones, T.O. & Sasser, Jr., E.W. (1995). Why satisfied customers defect. Harvard Business Review, November-December.
3 Millet, G. W. and Millet B. W. (2001). Creating and Delivering Totally Awesome Customer Experiences: The Art and Science of Customer Experience Mapping. Customer Experience Inc.
4 Reichheld, F. F. (2003). The one number you need. Harvard Business Review, December.