I’m pretty new to leadership. I haven’t been at it a terribly long time— about a year and a half. I’ve had my fair share of hyperventilation-worthy doubt-fests growing into the position I’m currently in as the Customer Experience Director at MeetEdgar.
But I’ve found my groove.
The process I’m most proud of is our approach to teamwork and collaboration.
A growing team
There’s a lot of stuff going on in the customer service department. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of processes, and tons of information being thrown all over the place. With a growing team, there’s inevitably an disparity in knowledge about less common things. If you’re not careful, things will fall through the cracks.
What’s the solution here?
The way I’ve chosen to approach this problem of department overwhelm before it even becomes a problem is by assigning areas of ownership to each person on the Customer Experience team. Every single person has their core duties as they relate to their job title. But after a CS Pro is through training and has demonstrated a want and capacity to expand their role, we move into identifying additional areas where they can add value. We assign areas of ownership.
So far, I’ve seen success with this approach. Before long, I found that this arguably “above and beyond” mindset is something I’ve come to expect of every team member, and it’s something we look for in candidates.
To clarify, this doesn’t mean you’re the only person who can do something. You’re not holding keys to the castle. It does mean that at the end of the day, you’re responsible for the final sweep through. If it’s in your area of ownership, it’s up to you to make sure the things that need to happen in that area are happening and that the information necessary to share related tasks is readily available.
Why ownership is integral to providing a good customer experience
A common attribute shared by people who excel at customer service is the ability to empathize. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy.
I could talk for hours on the virtues of empathy, how to demonstrate empathy, ways to develop your empathy. This is the magic thing that enables someone to be great at customer service and not get burnt out.
But I digress.
The type of person willing to take ownership of things above and beyond the strict boundaries of their official job title is usually also the type of person who takes great care to provide a satisfying solution for a customer. This person ties up loose ends. They advocate for customers. This person understands how customer interactions play into the bigger picture of the Customer Experience and the company’s objectives and values.
A person who exhibits ownership does not have “that’s not my job” in their vocabulary. Something may not be in their bucket of responsibilities, but they’re the type who will help you find out whose job it is. With areas of ownership defined, it’s natural to become more purposefully invested in the outcome of the things that fall under their core responsibilities and areas of ownership. They take pride in their work and best efforts. They respect their team members, and it is easy to work both independently and collaboratively.
And things don’t fall through the cracks.
Hiring for ownership
We do what I think is a standout job interviewing and vetting candidates— but the willingness to take ownership is not something that’s easy to screen for.
In the past two quarters, there’s been some restructuring of the CX team. We’ve made the CX team leaner and more efficient. That did mean parting ways with those who were unable or unwilling to embrace ownership. It did mean taking a cold hard look at our interview process and being deliberate about continuing only with applicants who were able to clearly demonstrate this empathy laden yet objective-oriented service approach.
Our multi-interview process makes it easier to spot these traits and inclinations. The biggest challenge is timing. We’re looking for a good candidate— not just good enough. We’re looking for people who’ll raise our team’s productivity average, increase our empathy quotient, be a strong ally in our efforts to continuously improve in all areas.
Are we looking for customer service unicorns? I don’t think so.