Last time I promised you a fun exercise you can run with your customer service people, to get them thinking differently about the day job. The following works well within a team meeting or as part of a broader development day.
In pairs or small groups, challenge your people to identify their Alternative Job Title, and present this with their fully reviewed Job Description back to the group. They can use any format and any materials they like. Tell them that they need to look beyond the bare tasks they do each day to see the Bigger Picture. That phone call they make, or visitor they greet, or statistical analysis sheet they complete – it’s a pebble being thrown into a pond. Where do the ripples go? How do your actions affect your customers after they leave your building or put the phone down? Who else do those ripples spread out to and touch?
Give them 30 minutes and you will be amazed at what they come up with. You will probably need to encourage and prompt at first. Most people begin by thinking quite small and logically, but you want them to think BIG, and remember: the crazier the mode of presenting back, the better!
I have seen the Alternative Job Title presented back as a mind-map, a David Attenborough wildlife programme, a rap, a hat design, a Haynes Car Manual, a séance, a theme park, a garden design, a holiday brochure…I haven’t yet experienced an interpretation through the medium of dance, but it’s only a matter of time…
Let me tell you what happened when a group of Library Assistants did this a few years back. They started out thinking they lend books and DVDs to people. True. But once they started thinking about those ripples, here’s what they decided they really did at work:
- Instil a love of books and language in the toddlers at Story Club that would provide pleasure and communication skills for the rest of their lives
- Give those little ones’ mums some much needed downtime to recharge their batteries, resulting in a happier home environment
- provide a warm and welcoming place for older people – perhaps the only reason some of them might leave their solitary home this week
- advise and inform the general public – that leaflet about a local support network for carers could be a life-changer
- provide students with a calm environment in which to focus on their homework, helping them to the grades that will drive the next stage of their life
- and so on…
Get the idea? Alternative Job Titles for our Library Assistants included: ‘Gatekeeper to the Magical Kingdom of Words!’, ‘Career Cultivation Expert’, ‘Community Lifeline’ and (my favourite) ‘Lighter of Bright Sparks’. Wow!
What could the implications be for your receptionist, telesales team, catering staff or PA? All of a sudden there’s a lot more to the day job than we thought.
Me? I fancy being ‘Slayer of Customer Service Mediocrity’. Bring it on!