When I first began in a role managing customer support at Monk Development, Inc., my goal was to continually acquire means of working faster and with more accuracy to serve an increasing volume of customers. With the phrase, “work smart, not hard” routinely repeating in my mind, every time a support case came in, I’d ask, “How can another person with this same question get what they need and be on their way much faster?” To my surprise, following that path was only fruitful ever so often. Soon I realized that efficiency with a support ticket isn’t the only thing customers appreciate.
“Work smart – not hard.”
Most of us are somewhat regrettably familiar with the idea of “working smart and not hard”. Even if it feels like a nagging voice in our work, we still can’t help but pursue our own interpretation of it almost every day. But what is the phrase really supposed to mean? And when we follow it, are we doing a good thing for the customer?
When I stepped back to rethink my process, I ended up redefining my take on the mantra. The result had a lasting impact on the way our team handles customer support today.
Hard vs smart
Let’s have a moment of honesty about our definitions of “hard” work and “smart” work. By “hard”, we probably mean something that is unnecessary—”busy work” which should have never been had we gone about the task the “right way.” By “smart” we probably mean efficiency, straight up. This usually involves a tool or process that multiplies productivity. Why drive yourself to work every day if you and your coworkers can carpool? Why carry thirty pounds of books in your bag, when you can easily wheel them in a cart up to your office? Working smart and not hard then is a practice that sounds great in theory, because of the imagined savings in time and resources.
However, when it comes to customer experience, are we sure the presumed benefits of the newest tool or methodology won’t translate to added costs elsewhere? It’s how we answer this added question that will determine whether we’re truly satisfying customers or just spinning everyone’s wheels. Even when we believe more efficiency could save us, we should first start out by meeting the hard work at its rightful place in our workflow.