How To Fix The "Not My Job" Mentality
Not everyone can be lucky enough to be blessed with the entrepreneurial spirit. Some people work in a business and go in to work every day to serve their customers in return for a crust. But how many people actually have jobs that affect others? In other words: How many people actually know who their real customers are and what they really want? In smaller organisations, where the organisation hierarchy is quite flat, junior members of staff will regularly meet, and work for, both paying customers as well as their senior Colleagues and Managers. The duties they are carrying out will be flexible and, in many cases, jobs given to these employees are ad hoc and mostly verbal instructions from others. “Please take this garment over to inspection as the customer is coming in 1 hour to collect it”. “Could you top up the toner in the photocopier please, it’s running out”. “Sit over here and make calls to this list of people to see why they haven’t paid this month”.
As the business grows and employees gain specific skills and knowledge, staff will be able to work more on their own volition and, in most cases, will diligently serve their customers as best they can. This sense of ownership of jobs often leads to the “That’s not my job” discussions that you hear around the water cooler daily. This sentiment often results in delays to business processes, and, in some rare cases, complete breakdown of customer services.
One of the causes of this “staff intransigence” is the lack of appreciation of the importance of customer identification and business process. In most cases, workers have no idea that two types of customers exist in businesses everywhere and both are just as important.
The Paying Customer
If you ask 100 workers to identify who their customers are, 90% will point to paying customers as their customer. Many of these workers will never meet or even speak to paying customers though. Of course, paying customers are the lifeblood of every business. Without their money, the business would not function. Paying customers that come back more than once are often referred to as “Clients”. The word Client would start to infer some sort of loyalty to the business or brand. Clients that come back regularly, do so because the business provides them with an acceptable level of service in the most cost-effective way. This loyalty is often predicated on their last experience and can be very fragile. Unless this business provides products and services that are totally unique (almost never), even “loyal” clients will switch, in a heartbeat, if they can get the same products elsewhere with less effort or less waiting around. In many cases it’s not even about price. If you were able to ask every one of your paying customers just one question today, what question would you ask them? Consider the answer to that as you read the rest of this blog.
The Internal Customer
In many businesses, the final product or service provided to the paying customer is built from several internal processes. As the business grows, some of these processes will be seen internally as “Departments”. It is only when all departments have done their job in turn that the paying customer gets what she wanted. So, often times, each employee will be waiting for somebody else to complete their task before they can complete their own. This principle means that the person waiting for you to complete your task is your customer. Your “internal customer”. In these cases, if your customer receives work from you that is late or incomplete, they will find it harder to complete their own task on time and so the effect snowballs. Breaks in business process like this will cause multiple exceptions that will have to be managed at extra cost and will inevitably cause delays for the paying customer and increased overhead for the business, making each transaction less viable. On Trivaeo free client consulting days, when we take a tour of the office and production sites of our own clients, we almost always see scenarios where staff have no appreciation of the concept of “internal customers”. We see cases where staff actually cherry-pick tasks to fit their mood or the time left on their shift. We have seen critical tasks left un-started because it was Friday afternoon at 4pm. Internal customers are just as important as paying customers, but, because they do not complain and because they will come back again to work next week, the internal customers’ requirements and sentiments are often ignored.
Customers Don't care about your problems and they don't like waiting
When You Have Just One Question
If you had just one question to ask both your internal customers and your paying customers, to gauge how well you were doing your job, what would it be? Trivaeo recommends the following question:
Question: “On a scale of 1 to 10 (Ten being BAD), how much effort did it take for you to do your business with us today”
The fact that most people forget about customers is, that all they want is to get in, do their business with you and get out, as quickly as possible. In this World of “Have a nice day” that point is easily forgotten. Get that part of your business right and the rest will follow. Start to consider how you can provide your product or service easier (with less friction) than any other competitor and you will be onto a winner. If you are seeing scores above 5 when you ask this key question, then you must start to take action to make your business more efficient, or risk annihilation when competitors spot your weaknesses.
A quick fix
By far the easiest way to reduce these problems, is to create clear, documented, business processes and to ensure that every single person taking part in those processes knows what they must do and when. Trivaeo Crossroads allows most business processes to be set out clearly on-line for all to see and understand. Then it allows all staff to see, separately, their own workflow. However, it is not quite enough to just ensure that your staff know what to do and when. You must also empower them to do their jobs. This means ensuring that when a task is started, every piece of information required is there at their fingertips. Many IT systems are great at documenting what people need to do, but they crash down in flames as employees go searching through filing cabinets, looking for documents required to complete their task. Trivaeo Crossroads features MyWorld. MyWorld is an on-line, real-time, dynamic list of tasks that are linked to the business processes. They are the personal workflow items of each member of your team and, when clicked, create records of actions and immediately link the user to the information they need to complete their task without delay. To start to see the benefits of Trivaeo Crossroads it is entirely frictionless (as you would expect). Click on any free trial here and populate the HR and Process and Collaboration sections with your information and any business process you wish. Users will require minimal training as the whole system is intuitive and dynamic. Then tell us: On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard was that?