“That’s not my job.”
You’ve seen or heard these words before, probably more than you’d care to remember. When a project is kicked off or a favor is asked, many people blurt out this phrase without hesitation. For those of us who work in the trade of customer and user experience, these words open the door to a much larger issue. They are a crack in the foundational values of good customer experience.
Customer experience is a function of people. It’s fickle and fragile. It thrives on collaboration and is cultivated by the actions (both direct and indirect) of every employee at a company. It is a shared responsibility and vision. Any one person can help to improve customer experience, and, in the blink of eye, any one person can destroy it.
Seeing Beyond The Sea of Tasks
There are times when the words “that’s not my job” are entirely justified, when experienced at the task level. Job descriptions exist for a reason, providing the foundation of responsibilities that are expected of a position. A sales person should not manage a software engineering release. Nor should customer support budget a company’s payroll. These are tasks -- assigned pieces of work to be finished within a certain period of time.
Customer experience transcends the task level. It’s difficult to assign, and it should never be bound to a certain period of time because it is much larger than the confines of a task. It’s a shared responsibility, therefore it’s everyone’s job.
For product and development, it’s listening to customer feedback when building the next product wireframes. For finance, it’s waiving a late fee for due to an honest customer mistake. For upper management, it’s making sure customer satisfaction is treated as a core KPI and for marketing, it’s providing support via their social media channels. These are all small tasks that, together, yield amazing customer experiences.
The simple declaration of “that’s not my job” may hint towards a larger culture issue -- a lack of employee empowerment, encouragement and accountability.
Empowerment - 'That Could Be My Job'
Employees get caught up in the daily grind. As they settle into a company, they typically cultivate a set of responsibilities that are focused and finite. However, when employees get lost in their responsibilities and details, they lose perspective of the bigger picture. Objectives and goals become lost in tasks and tactics. We feel as though we can't make an impact. Basically, if it’s not on our list, it’s not our problem.
Empowerment takes an employee’s narrow, focused perspective and cranks open the aperture. It allows them to survey the bigger picture and see how their work affects other teams and end users. Empowered employees feel like the have a voice, and a commitment towards a larger, shared vision. Customer experience is one of those shared visions.