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28 Feb 2019

Understanding ownership

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The world ownership is derived from the world “Own” Which means having the right to something. Ownership means taking the responsibility of a task or an activity. There are two ways to look at ownership, it can be internality driven or externally driven. When you consider a task as your responsibility without being allotted by your seniors, you are considered to be internally driven in taking ownership of that particular task. On the other hand, when a responsibility is given as per your job function by your seniors and considered as the owner of that task or responsibility.


In any organization, there are various functions that complete the core objective of the organization for example, for a bank, the core objective is to grow by acquiring more and more customers and provide financial solutions to its customers. Different functional departments work towards achieving these core objectives. The sales department has the responsibility to acquire new customers. The marketing department conducts research to understand the changing preferences of customers and their profiles. Similarly, the human resource department ensures that the employees are given due training for their present and future jobs. It is the management’s responsibility to ensure that all efforts of these departments complement the objective of the organization.


Customer service function of any organization is the core deliverable and probably the most ambiguous function with no clear boundaries. What one customer perceives as an excellent service may be perceived as an average service by another customer. It becomes a subjective decision when handing exceptional situations or situations which are not a part of routine task. The service function gets handled by the customer care executives and they play a vital role in achieving high customer satisfaction scores.


Ownership in regard to customer service can be defined as the responsibility of the customer care executive by taking onus to find the desired solution to be customers’ concern and making a positive impression on the customer. Taking onus means that you take interest in customer’s query and make efforts to resolve it.


Factors impacting Ownership


Creating a lively work culture: Culture in an organization represents the unwritten norms, which are followed by all employees irrespective of the organizational hierarchy. For example, if existing employees take ownership of switching off lights and computers before leaving their workplaces, it will impact newly recruited staff and will also help in saving electricity.


Empowering employees: it involves the processes of giving power to employees who must use it in the interest of the organization. For example, many customers call the credit department of the bank to reverse the late payment charges. However, the bank gives that the customer care executive authority to wave off the late payment charges for customers who are not frequent late payers. Thus, it is a management belief that if you empower your front end executives, they will be able to give a faster turnaround of service. If organizations hold all decisions with not try to take ownership of queries. If you let employees take small decisions, it prepares them for bigger ones and they tend to own their decisions and responsibilities.


Motivating employees: motivation plays an important role in empowering employees to deliver on results in alignment with the organization’s goals. Taking ownership is like acting as if the organization is yours and act you get into, good or bad, reflects on your organization. You can consider a responsibility as your own if you are positively motivated. For example, a senior praises you for your efforts in front of other colleagues. This will motivate you and in future, you will be ready to take ownership and try to solve customers’ issue at your end.


Using technology: Increased use of technology and automation makes it possible for employees and customers to use it to their advantage. For example, a customer calls a mobile service provider for a complaint regarding poor signal strength and he/she gets a complaint number on the interactive voice response (IVR) itself. Thus, he/she gets a positive response an feels good that organization is taking ownership of his/her issue.


Imparting training and learning: while training is considered as the organizations’ responsibility, learning should be the responsibility of an employee. The training and learning helps employees to be more responsive to the customers query and keep them updated with the market changes. For example, a bank executive has been trained on the latest investment schemes that help in tax planning. If a customer comes to him and asks about a scheme related to tax planning, he will be able to take ownership of the customer’s concern and will be able to guide the customer with confidence.


Encouraging employee orientation: when organizations take ownership of employee’s interests, employees, in turn take interest in the growth of the competence and aspiration, creating work-life balance and treating them as human assets make employees feel wanted and they contribute their best in the growth of the organization. This helps employees identify their roles and responsibilities with the bigger goal of the organization and they feel empowered to take decisions that are in the interest of the organization. They consider themselves contributing towards the core objective of the organization. For example, an employee. It a customer with any complaint comes to him, he will take ownership of customer’s concern and will take initiative to resolve the issue rather than escalating it to seniors.


Extending ownership to customers: Happy customers become loyal to an organization. In future, even if a customer faces any problem, instead of creating chaos he/she will wait patently to get the issue resolved. For example, A multinational bank made a mistake of sending credit statement of customer A to customer B. When customer B received it, he found that the statement showed transactions which he had never made. Instead of creating an issue about the mistake, he points out the mistake to the customer care executive. Customer B could have also escalated the issue. However, he took the ownership of bank’s mistake and preferred to help the bank to correct it. Customer B, when asked why he opted for taking ownership, said that the bank always treated his problems as their own and worked out the best solution.

This is the way of reciprocating the ownership. It is like treating customers as partners.


Keeping employees informed: Generally, organizations keep their employees informed about what is happening in the organization. This helps in increasing the probability of employees making more favorable decisions. For example, an executive of a bank is aware of the internal changes happening in the bank such as opening of a new branch in Mumbai, Andheri (East). When a customer who resides in Andheri (East), comes to the executive in Andheri (West) branch, the executive can inform the customer about the new branch be opening in his/her locality.


Encouraging leadership: The organization must have leaders who drive ownership. These leaders communicate, set strategies, show direction and lead employees on how to take ownership and assess its impact. For example, a manager in a bank can motivate the employees to take ownership of customer’s issue.


Benefits of Ownership


There are innumerable tangible and intangible benefits of ownership with respect to work. The key benefits of taking ownership are:

Competitive advantage: Employees and customers of organization taking ownership have a competitive edge over other organization. By taking ownership the organization proves that it takes interest in providing solution to the customer’s problem.

Efficient processes: The business process are efficient when employees take ownership. This reflects in higher customer satisfaction scores and lower complaints.

Loyal customer base: Organizations with loyal customer base gets repeated business from the same set of customers for years. These customers introduce new customers and in a way,  actually contribute to the growth of the organization.

Efficiency: The employees make fewer mistakes when they own up process. They deliver quality service to customers and these customers add to the organization’s profit.

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