When essence is imbedded in the process, it occurs reliably


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Assembly Line Color copyThis is the third post in a series that will explore a set of questions I received from participants during a recent webinar on the topic of customer service.

Question: How can you incent or encourage voluntary behaviors that get to customer delight if it’s not part of the expected job function?

If done properly, job essence and job function can be one in the same. Let me explain… Job function consists of the duties and tasks associated with one’s job role. Job essence is an employee’s highest priority at work. For most service industry employees, their highest priority at work is to create promoters – delighted customers who are less price sensitive, have higher repurchase rates, and are responsible for 80-90 percent of the positive word-of-mouth about a company or brand.

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 job functions.

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. During the examination of daily operating reports, gross revenue reports, and period end or quarterly results, attention predictably shifts to the metrics aligned with job function.

It is 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. Here are two examples, one product and one service: Snapple, the beverage company, famously includes a “Real Fact” on the underside of its bottle caps. Real Fact #719 states: “A strawberry is not an actual berry but a banana is.” 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 service example: Our family just celebrated my oldest son’s 13th birthday at a Japanese steakhouse. In addition to preparing the meal, the teppanyaki chef entertained his guests by flipping an egg into his hat and inviting diners to catch small pieces of broccoli tossed from his spatula. By entertaining his guests, this chef successfully incorporates essence (using appropriate humor) into a function (the cooking process). As a result, Mt. Fuji earns a higher average check than most of its local competition.

How can you incorporate job essence into job function?

Illustration by Aaron McKissen.

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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