imageIn our increasingly regulated and controlled working lives, it is easy to feel that we are just part of a big machine, doing repetitive and dull jobs. This is particularly the case if you work in call centres or other environments where there is a set script to follow. Motivation, and therefore performance, tend to be low which affects profitability.

Does it have to be this way? Does this get the best out of our staff?

We need to consider why roles are being specified so tightly…

A frequent cause of over prescriptive roles arises as a result of process design. For example, when designing an end-to-end process the analyst will determine the information that must be given as part of that process step along with the information that must be collected in order to complete the process. These information requirements may be specified by legislation and are likely to be essential to allow downstream process steps to work effectively.

A common way to ensure that the correct information is given and collected is to specify a script that must be complied with by all staff. This frequently results in bored staff who are totally disinterested in any form of human interaction with customers.

You can probably recall many such situations when you have been the customer in such situations and where you do not get a good impression of the organisation you are dealing with.

An alternate approach is to specify the facts that must be communicated, but then empower staff to develop their own way of delivering those facts that is comfortable to them. This results in staff being more engaged in the process and the customer feels like they dealing with a human being and not a machine.

A good example of this in action can be found on London Underground where a number of the platform announcers have developed this to a fine art – There is an announcer at Waterloo Station with an Australian accent who ends all his announcements with words along the lines of “… and wherever you go today, and whatever you do, have a great day”. Probably the best example is the announcer at Old Street who has a pleasant Scottish accent and her delivery is along the following lines “This is a northbound Northern Line train calling at all stations to High Barnet. Good evening driver, hope you’re having a good day today. Passengers, the train is ready to depart, but it can’t do that if you have any bags or coats trapped in the doors, so keep everything clear of the doors”. Her Friday script tends to be a bit longer with the addition of “You lucky people, it’s Friday, best day of the week woo-hoo, but if you don’t keep you bags and coats clear of the doors you won’t be able to get home to enjoy it, so mind the doors”.
The result of this is usually smiles from most passengers and a toot from the drivers whistle. She fits all the facts that she must do into the announcement, but also ensures that it is interesting, light hearted and effective.

Have you come across other examples of how to allow staff to enrich both their roles and the experience for customers?

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