Mike’s Dump

August 4, 2005

What is Your Job Description?

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 1:06 pm

Think about that question for a minute… What is your job description?

Now I’m sure you have all kinds of duties that you do day in and day
out but when thinking about your job description where did you rank
customer service? Did it make your list? Based on my observations a lot
of people don’t even consider it.

Something that I’ve learnt in my relatively short working career is
that the number one responsibility of anyone involved in producing a
product or service is customer service. Any business that doesn’t
believe this must have no competition in their sector so they can get
away with lousy customer service. Any business that does strive to
provide the best possible customer service is not only limiting its own
growth but it will probably lead to its ultimate demise.

There are a couple of reasons that I feel so strongly about the
importance of customer service. The first one is related to experiences
at my previous job and the second is related to my very first job.
These experiences have had a great influence on the way that I work

My previous job was at a software company that I worked at for a total
of 3 1/2 years. The last 1 1/2 years of my employment I was not paid on
time. When I finally quit I was behind by 2 full months of pay (I did
eventually get paid). While the company was in financial difficultly
the staff received regular updates on when we could expect to be paid.
We heard on a regular basis that getting our paycheck relied on some
user acceptance testing being successful, or one of the development
teams delivering a bug fix, or a sales person closing a deal.

With the situation at hand it was obvious to see the importance for us
to work as quickly as possible but also to provide excellent quality
because if we didn’t the customer could reject it (if you were a
customer would you pay for substandard work?). People hungry for a
paycheck (hopefully not just hungry) would question everything that was
done. Do we really need to be working on that project? Is there any
other billable work that can be done first? Is there any other way that
I can help? Yes, the overall driving force for people was to get a
paycheck so they could survive but the writing on the wall was:
Customer service = paycheck. In most companies individuals don’t feel
these pressures (exception might be commission sales people). “It will
get done when it’s done”. Anyone with that mentality probably wouldn’t
survive running his or her own business.

My very first job (well that lasted more than a couple of months) was
working for A & W. I know, “fast food?” but there was an important
lesson here. A & W required every employee to memorize the company
mission statement within their first 3 months of work. With the average
employee age probably being around 16 I thought it was pretty stupid at
the time. Most people working there just wanted to put in their time
and take the shitty 5 bucks an hour. I really don’t remember what the
words of the mission statement were but the idea was to exceed customer
and each other’s expectations. It wasn’t enough to punch in the order
and toss the food to the customer. The mission was to exceed their
expectations. The part of the mission that stands out to me the most
was “and each other’s”. That meant that our co-workers and the managers
were our customers as well, I was the manager’s customer. I had a hard
time believing that the company really felt that way about me. I
thought that if I wanted any sort of advancement that I would have to
exceed their expectations but in what way would that treatment ever be

My work ethic earned me some brownie points and I was told I would be
made an assistant manager. The title was really meaningless to mean
because I already did the work but I wanted the pay that would go along
with it. Some time passed and I was told I could have the title but I
wouldn’t get the raise that went along with it because that store
couldn’t afford it (ya right). I was pissed! I worked my ass off for a
shitty wage, was promised an increase but I didn’t get it. So, I found
another job that paid what they promised me (wasn’t hard finding a job
for $5.50/hour).

When the district manager asked me why I was quitting I said, “not only
did you not exceed my expectations but you didn’t even meet them. You
don’t practice what you preach”. I thought that would be that and I
went on to the other job. I hated it and quit after a day (it was a car
wash). About 2 weeks later the district manager called me offering me a
job at another store for more than what she originally offered. I was
amazed. Looking at the situation “half empty” you could say that they
should have done that to begin with but that fact that they did it at
all I was truly impressed. Treating the people you work with like your
very best customer = an excellent working environment = people that
want to exceed.

Stating loudly and clearly that exceeding customer expectations is the
number one priority of an organization will pay off if people believe
the importance of it. The hard part is creating the work environment
where everyone is treated like the very best customer so they are
driven to want to exceed.



  1. […]the side of me that would wear a drunken co-workers shirt that he received from a stripper and allow my picture to be taken slowly raises his hand to object. That inner voice says, “Umm Mike, once you start your journey to the dark side forever will it dominate your destiny”. […]

    Comment by Mike's Dump — August 16, 2005 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  2. I feel the need to add some closure to the Best Buy ordeal. I’m not making this up; Sulley is back. After two months without my laptop Best Buy finally got around to returning it to me. It wouldn’t be any fun if it was a simple as phoning me up and saying, “Mr. Friesen, your laptop is fixed”.

    Comment by Mike's Dump — November 7, 2005 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  3. I received an e-mail today from someone I have never met. This person lives in Ontario working at A &…

    Comment by Mike's Dump — January 29, 2007 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

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