Seth Godin had an excellent blog post recently about passing the buck.
How many times have you said, “I just work here”?
I was in a sorority in college, and one of the things that always baffled me were the rules we had. If you were wearing your sorority letters, you couldn’t smoke or drink. If you had your letters on your car, you couldn’t smoke or drink in your car. Obviously, drinking and smoking wasn’t allowed in the house or anywhere on sorority property.
At the time, I thought it was all about conformity. Now, after nearly three years of working in marketing, I realize it was about protecting their brand. The sorority didn’t want to be associated with certain behaviors. Even if you’re not the one smoking or drinking, if you wear the same letters as somebody who is, people will have the same perception of you.
Anybody who “wears your letters,” so to speak, is a representative of your company, and their actions reflect on you. It doesn’t matter if they’re your boss, your assistant, your co-worker, or that new guy from the California office. You may not have any influence over what another employee does, but that’s not going to matter to customers.
If your sales department is rude to customers, don’t be surprised if they refuse to give the marketing department a glowing testimonial. If the IT department is sluggish with handling support requests, don’t be surprised when it starts to affect your ability to sell.
As far as customers are concerned, you’re all under the same umbrella. And even if you’re not part of the problem, you don’t get the luxury of the “I just work here” excuse.
What can you do about it?
Don’t try to shift the blame. Try to fix the problem.
Don’t say, “I just work here,” and then expect the customer to help you out when you’ve just dismissed their problems.
If a customer’s angry because of the way they were treated, help them file a complaint and make sure it gets to the right people. If somebody’s annoyed because they’re being bombarded by unsolicited messages, make sure their email gets taken off the list. Tell others in the company what’s going on and how it’s affecting the business. Take responsibility in finding a solution.
Nobody “just works here.”
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