Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Recently, I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that the most important aspects of my job (and likely yours) are nonessential.
Think about it. Most jobs consist of a set of essential job tasks that define a job role. These tasks might be described as mandatory job functions—the bullet points that make up a job description.
To the extent that employees define their job roles according to these mandatory functions, they will often describe their work as routine and monotonous. These employees presumably will view the essence of their jobs (their highest priority) as the successful execution of their assigned job tasks.
Sounds pretty boring, huh?
That’s because all of the fun usually resides within the dimensions of our work that may not appear in our job descriptions. I’m referring to those aspects of our jobs that are creative, interesting, and unexpected.
Customers describe these actions as “beyond the call of duty” or “going the extra mile.” In most cases, these tasks or behaviors are optional and support the true essence of our jobs (creating delighted customers).
Since these tasks and behaviors are optional, they’re seen as nonessential, unimportant, and elective. Because of this, as customers we don’t always experience them. But when we do, it makes an impression and reinforces our loyalty.
Here’s a recent example:
Many consumers see insurance as a commodity and regularly compare rates to determine whether or not they can find a lower premium. After all, as long as the essential elements of an insurance policy are present (sufficient coverage, reasonable deductible, affordable premium, etc.), insurance is insurance, right?
For instance my Allstate agent, Kevin Johnson, recently emailed me a link to enroll in an electronic billing discount program offered by Allstate that he and I had previously discussed. I happened to be traveling when his email arrived and never got around to enrolling.
As my renewal deadline approached, Kevin took the time to personally enroll me and then sent me my user name and password with a short note saying, “I know you are running 100 miles an hour and we want to make sure you get the discount.”
Was Kevin’s action essential? No, it was optional. And, as it turned out, saved me about $115. Because of actions like this, I don’t compare rates with his competitors to see if I can find cheaper insurance. Why would I risk losing the personal attention I receive?
So while the essential aspects of my insurance policy have little to do with whether or not I decide to renew, shop around for a better rate, or recommend Kevin and Allstate to others, the nonessential aspects are vital to these decisions.
What are some nonessential aspects of your own job that are vital to your success?