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.

EXAMPLE:

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!

EXAMPLE:

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

Customer Centered

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.

About Robyn Gotch

After many years of quilting, sewing and long-arm quilting for myself, I felt it was time to offer these same services to the public. You will find that because I am a quilter myself, your projects will be treated with the same care and respect that I do my own.

Posted on October 10, 2011, in Society, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi Robin,

    I like your initial sentence and I envy you for that you remember when we met at the open house you had your Ipad I was already admiring your computer skills when you were searching for your daughter’s picture. I wish to be your neighbour so that you can help me to be competent with technology. I am not well versed in technological skills but I will get there gradually.

    You are well organized Robin and I like the way you display your responsibilities in your job. You also show the confidence you have with your job. You are indeed presenting your greater worth and there is no way you can be outsourced. You are such a wonderful example to me because after reading your post under that topic of presenting your greater worth I worked on my own conscious. I took an introspection of myself by asking myself a few questions. First I should know what is it that is unique that I do for my organization ? Why should they keep me as an employee. That was a good point thanks again Robin.

    I like your last paragraph again, You exemplified in the model by Zuboff and Maxim. I like how you mention that you placed your customer at the center of your universe that is a professional communicator ! Being the head of the game is ok because by so doing you will be able to tailor your writing to the right audience. That is exactly what a writer should do put your audience in the center of your universe so that you can be able to write the right documents to the right audience.

  2. I like the direct application of the readings to your workplace experiences and policies/practice. Last Fall the class had a lot more teachers of writing than people in the industry, so it’s wonderful to hear these examples!

    • Actually, I consider myself “in transition”. I love being able to work with my husband; however, would rather find an opportunity to either teach or write. Life is so complicated!

  3. Of course the majority of technical communicators are women. It has gone from being a prestige job to a “commodity activity” (Dicks p.55). Sorry to sound cynical, but was devalued as a career choice and so it fell to women. You see this at as low a level as the grocery store. Now they have female baggers. I’m sure someone passed it off as being “equal” but really, bagging is the crappier job.

  4. Robin—

    We do in fact live in a global world and I think that’s a great thing. The problem with it is now I feel that I’m competing with people around the world.
    At my old job, I was working with a partner company in Australia to create content for new products over there. After working with them, I realized the person that was currently creating the content wasn’t doing a good enough job. I talked to my boss about it and they put me in-charge of all the Australian content and they fired the person in Australia. I basically took that persons job because I could do it better.
    The thing that scares me is that someday, I could be person getting replaced by someone that lives on the other side of the world.

  5. I too was alarmed by the idea of “show your worth or prepare to be outsourced.” I am constantly looking for new jobs (new opportunities) and it drives me nuts when two-thirds of the positions posted are 12-month contracts. I have big problem with contracted workers. 1) They fully understand the company that contracts them. 2) They are more self focus instead of focused on the company. Does a contracted worker come up with new ideas for your company? Does a contracted worker solve problems? No and no. But do they save you money? Yes.

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