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Focus On Customers: Use Your Powers For Good.
By Rhonda F. Waters   Printer Friendly Version

Interdepartmental bomb throwing is a complete waste of time. Telling your cronies how right you were about a project going down in flames is unimportant compared with the customer who walks out the door because your department did not deliver, again. If you are part of a project and you know that your due date is not far enough out in the future, do not wait until your time is up to tell someone. If you have told the proper person and they do not seem to be paying you any attention, do not wait. Get your work done ahead of time so the customer can still have service on the agreed date. That's right, plan your work and time so you can keep all of the company's commitments. It might not make for as many good stories, but it will keep you, and the company you work for, in business. I know YOU did not make the agreed date with the customer, but it is still a valid commitment nonetheless.

If you are unable to make your commitments find out why. Do some analyses and find out what the problems really are. Was your department set up before a new computer system was added and are you still doing things the same old way? Do you have new employees in your group who need additional training? Does all the work you receive from another department arrive too late for you to complete on time? If you have reporting people ask them what the problems are, they probably know. Ask other people who have experience in the same area. If you work alone think about how you really spend your time. Don't forget to look in the mirror while you are looking for problems with the process. Remember, it does not matter much how things were done in the past. The purpose in analyzing past history at work is to learn! What really matters most is how you can help customers now, and in the future. Fix the problems most closely related to the job that you control first! Learn how to provide clear documentation so you can show people how many things you are doing right, as well as things that do not work out.

When we are hired as employees we have agreed, in spirit at least, to do our best to help the company. That means helping other employees as well. Part of your ability to help customers is based on your relationship with other employees. If you are consistently given short due dates the person assigning them needs to be informed. They probably do not understand the work you are doing. Remember that many organizations have new people in important jobs with no idea how to do them. Take a little time and help them out. Maybe the next time you need help they, or someone else, will help you too. When you are explaining your function, include an explanation of the 'padding' you add too. Do not pad more than 10% without a very good reason. People will think that you are crying wolf and keep short dating you. Ask for the 'real' amount of time that you require.

In businesses where we might not actually see customers in person it becomes easy to pretend that they are not out there. Spend a little time with a salesperson or become involved directly with customers and your attitude will readjust itself! Imagine how hard it would be to tell a customer face-to-face that the product they ordered a month ago is not ready. They do not care about interdepartmental gymnastics, all they want is what they are paying for. Use your experience to help others, and yourself.

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