• Jim Canfield

Identify Key Customer-Impacting Jobs



Would you turn over your car keys to a stranger without knowing his or her driving record? Of course not. So why would you gamble on the success of your company by turning over a key customer-impacting position to someone who might be all wrong for the job?


In fact, identifying the key customer-impacting jobs in your company is the most powerful tool on the people side of your business. And it’s a critical first step before you even think about hiring another employee.


Winners Only


This tool helps you identify the top five customer-impacting jobs in your company so you can put winners in those key positions. Start by brainstorming with your management or leadership team.


Ask your team these questions:

  • Which jobs have the most frequent interaction with customers?

  • Which jobs have the most potential to have an impact, positive or negative, for our customers?

Using a matrix like the one shown below can help focus the team’s discussion.


Now that you’ve identified the top five customer-impacting jobs in your company, you must determine what outstanding performance means for each position from the customer’s point of view. After all, you need the associates in those spots to be top performers.


The Key Criteria


To flesh out a list for each position, engage in a give-and-take with your high-performing employees who currently hold those positions. It may take several conversations to uncover what the top 10 percent do differently from everyone else, but you’ll soon figure it out. Remember—you’re looking for what the customer considers to be top performers.


Next, quantify the five definitions you’ve come up with. This may be harder to do for some positions, but every position can be measured in some way. Excellent performance for a sales assistant, for example, might be defined by the number of weeks the associate has worked with error-free order entry. An accounting associate might be measured by the percentage of invoices he or she has generated correctly. Both positions might also be measured by how helpful they are perceived to be by the company.


Recognize the MVPs


After you’ve defined and quantified excellent performance for your key customer-facing positions, take three steps to support and recognize employees who currently hold these positions as well as those whom you’ll bring on board as spots open up:


  • Build a compensation system—When an employee excels, he or she might receive a bonus or special performance incentive fee (SPIF). Payouts should be frequent—monthly or quarterly—so employees associate the bonus with their current performance.

  • Create a recognition system—Ensure that highflyers receive regular pats on the back for superb results. Consider spotlighting these employees in your monthly letter to your team or another company-wide communication tool or forum.

  • Provide training and tools—You’re counting on associates in your key customer-facing jobs to deliver excellent performance, so you must shower them with the training and support they need to be winners. Consider special training for these new hires above and beyond your standard onboarding process.

When you’ve completed this process for your five key customer-impacting jobs, move on to the other important jobs in the company. Using this approach, you can dramatically improve the performance of individual employees and the whole company.

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