Incorporate essence into function


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Santa SignAn observation: While employees consistently execute the mandatory job functions (duties/tasks) for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate the voluntary job essence (service behaviors) for which there is little or no additional cost to the employer.

Why do you suppose that is? Possibly it’s because their duties and tasks are clearly outlined in their job description. Job function is what they were hired to do. It’s what they’re paid to do. And there are often quotas and other metrics associated with job function. When employees do receive feedback at work from their immediate supervisor, it likely pertains to job function. It’s no wonder employees consistently execute these mandatory duties and tasks.

Job essence, on the other hand, is not generally recorded in one’s job description. While job essence may have come up during the onboarding process, during an orientation video or in a speech by a company executive, that’s often where it stops. While examining daily operating reports, gross revenue reports, and period end or quarterly results, attention predictably shifts to the metrics aligned with job function.

It is, however, possible to incorporate job essence into job function so that it occurs reliably, over time, by design rather than inconsistently, here and there, by chance. For example, Nordstrom initiated a trend in retail customer service by having its sales associates walk around the sales counter to hand a customer her purchases rather than schlepping the bag over the counter after posing the ubiquitous industry farewell: “Receipt with you or in the bag?”

By doing so, Nordstrom was able to consistently incorporate job essence (expressing genuine interest) into a standard job function (presenting a customer’s purchases). As did customers, other retailers took notice and now you see competing department stores’ employees doing the same.

Here’s another example of incorporating essence into function that you’ve likely experienced without realizing it: Snapple, the beverage company, famously includes a “Real Fact” on the underside of its bottle caps. Real Fact #755 states: “There are more chickens than people in the world.” Did you know that? I didn’t – until now. By including these Real Facts, Snapple incorporates essence (sharing unique knowledge) into a function (the bottling process) and, I suspect, has sold a lot more ice tea and lemonade as a result.

And here’s a third example I just encountered the other day: A Denver area shopping center posted break times for its seasonal Santa attraction using the following language: “Santa usually takes Milk and Cookie Breaks at 1:30 and 5:30pm…Sometimes he also makes a quick trip to feed the reindeer. Thanks for understanding that Santa is very busy!” By crafting verbiage infused with humor rather than defaulting to sterile words to convey the same message, this shopping center chose to deliberately incorporate essence (appropriate humor) into a function (posting Santa’s break times).

Managers have an opportunity to consistently elevate customer service quality by deliberately incorporating essence into function in the workplace. Doing so will produce exceptional customer service reliably, over time, rather than – as often occurs – inconsistently, here and there, by chance.

How can you incorporate job essence into job function in your world of work?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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