Customer Centered – Not Corporate Centered
In with the old –In with the new!
I consider myself a pretty computer-savvy and up to date kind of gal; however, right out of the box, many of the concepts that R. Stanley Dicks presented refreshed my thinking. Ok, I was not surprised to find out that “Today, a majority of technical communicators are women…” (Spilka, 51). What was a wakeup call was the concept that our industry is not only about the here and now – it encompasses generations of techniques and information.
This should not have come as a surprise to me because in my own present industry, we have UPS (uninterruptible power systems) units in the field that were manufactured in the 80’s and earlier. In order to provide technical assistance, we have to utilize old manuals. Sometimes, it is necessary to recap these dusty tomes or adjust our present technology to work on these older units. One example is the ports they provide. A technician can easily communicate with a newer unit via the communications card; however, an older unit used a serial port. As many of you know, serial ports are no more standard today on a laptop than a 3 ½ inch floppy drive. This creates an element of transition and clarification when dealing with these older systems.
Present your greater worth or prepare to be outsourced!
Here is a concept that sends shivers up my spine. Then again, I suppose there are levels and levels of justification to contend with here. A company that does not make a profit cannot afford to hire and if outsourcing menial tasks keeps the boat afloat, then so be it. I know that many charge ahead with “buy American!” I agree with this sentiment; however, I am
also a realist and what is real to me is that we live in a global world, not just a local neighborhood. We no longer compete with only the talented individuals in our home town. We now compete with people all over the country and world!
It hit home with me when the book’s discussion centered on a post industrialist society and referred to technical communicators of old as “word smiths” (Spilka 54). This scenario is
nothing new to our society. There was a time when a person graduated high school (or most often not), went to the factory and worked there as unskilled labor for 40 years until they retired with a pension. These jobs have also been mostly outsourced – it is time for America to work smarter!
As many of you know, I work for a company as a Technical Sales Specialist. What is this? It is not simply a salesperson. In order to protect my job, I need to bring many skills to the table while at the same time helping to keep down costs. I do this by providing the following:
- Work from home which saves over $600 per month in office expense alone
- Maintain my own records, do my own calls and provide sales and service to my customers as:
- Main contact
- Dispatcher for Technicians
- Quoting units, services, batteries, parts and other for a variety of manufacturers
- Provide pricing, availability and freight along with tracking information for orders
- Maintain a database of technical documentation that can be distributed at need
- Handle technical calls when they arise, and whenever possible at all hours
There are other benefits that I provide as well, but in the end it is all about planned job security. I know that I cannot just sit back and do the minimum – this will flag me for replacement.
As is exemplified in the model by Zuboff and Maxim, I have already placed my customer at the center of my universe – I am ahead of the game. As a matter of fact, I would consider my
model to be one of Customer-Centered, not Corporation-Centered.