A bit about Customer Service and Human Nature

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Hello all, Last week seemed like a long week right, I hope all was prosperous and productive for you!  Welcome to Warehouse and Operations as a Career where we discuss the Positions and Opportunities within the Warehouse, Transportation & Operations Worlds.  I’m Marty and our sole objective is to help today’s young men & women maybe break into the field, even if it’s through a general labor task and give them the pathway, keywords & experiences through our discussions & interviews to advance into Senior Management and beyond. We don’t have anything to sell, just a lot of experience and experiences, some thoughts and probably way too many opinions and the time to share them and pass them along.  Usually we publish a show once a week on Thursdays, talking about different positions, how maybe we can earn those promotions and quite a bit on Safety.  Occasionally I run across a situation or have some of those options or thoughts I’d like to share so we’ll publish it as kind of a special episode so as not to take us off our path to reach our goals or mess up our career plans!

Today I’d like to share a few situations I encountered last week and talk about a few responsibilities we each have on our new jobs.   Early last week I heard a complaint from an Over the road driver, heard many like it before and as I was traveling around different facilities I shared it a couple of times, just passing it along in hopes of avoiding it happening again, I guess you could say maybe thinking I was doing a bit of training along the way.  I felt like it could be a great Customer Service Opportunity but while speaking with several Lumpers and warehousemen I got the feeling that

1 – They didn’t know it was a part of their job, not anything specific but how we should always be focused on what’s right thing to do and what’s the wrong way of doing things AND

2 – knowing they had been trained to be focused, that they had forgotten, well maybe not forgotten, but weren’t paying enough attention to the Customer Service aspect of their task.  We all, every job, has a customer, back in my day it was called setting the plate for the next shift, for that person or position that handled the item or pallet after us, the drivers or transportation etc…

Think about it for a minute, the Lumper may have two Customers, the Driver he is unloading, he or she has other stops on the truck, we need to keep it organized, clean and not damage anybody else’s product & if we have to move any pallets around we’ll need to keep the weight distributed properly as well.  His or her second customer is the Receiver, we’ll need to segregate and separate the product properly, stack according to the proper ti & hi and place it properly in its staging area so it can be received correctly.  Oh and maybe we could count the Forklift or Put-Away person as our customers too, we need to make sure it’s stacked on a good pallet, placed squarely on the pallet and stacked tightly, maybe even wrapped insuring its ready to be racked.  The receiver’s customers could be many, the Lumpers, keeping the product tagged, received and making them plenty of room to keep working, and the fork drivers, keeping him plenty of product to haul, keeping him busy and of course all his companies accounts product, making sure it’s the right items and counts.  Then of course the forklift drivers customers could be the Order Selectors, even Inventory Control, he or she needs to get the product to the right slot or rack it properly.  Customers for the Selectors may very well be the Checkers, Shipping Clerk or the Delivery Driver.  The list goes on and on.  I feel Customer Service is a part of every position I can think of, and really isn’t it just really doing our jobs right?

Speaking of Transportation and the Driver – that may very well be the toughest job in Operations.  Not because it’s so physical necessary but the buck always stops with them.  Salesmen, brokers, dispatchers can say anything to get someone off their back and the Driver has to meet and fulfill all those promises they don’t know anything about lol.  I like to think of them as the CEO or President of their loads, they have all the responsibility for it, have to answer for EVERYONE else’s mistakes from the Customer and has the least amount of control of their whole delivery day lol.  We’ll talk a lot more about drivers and their challenges in a later episode though, it’s a very interesting and rewarding Career as well!

Where was I now….

Oh Yeah, I really do think we all should try to pay more attention and focus intently on how what we do affects the next task in the line and that it really is just doing our jobs correctly.

Wikipedia states, you all know how much I like looking up definitions all the time, Customer Service is “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase…, couldn’t we apply that thought process to the person handling the freight after us? Shouldn’t we all, always try and Set the Plate for the next task or shift?

Anyway, back to my short story.  So this driver backed in, hired the Lumper service to unload several pallets.  The lumper pulled off his part of the load, evidently had to move a few pallets around inside the trailer to get this stop’s product out so it could be worked and then ran the other pallets he had moved down the wall of the trailer.  The driver paid for the services, got the signed bills & pulled away from the dock, got ready to close the door and discovered the rest of the load was now ran down one side of the trailer and the weight distribution was now WAY off.  The driver had to go back in and get it corrected before they could hit the road again.  To make matters worse there was a bit of a delay in getting someone with a jack to go correct it!

Of course nothing was done intentionally but his customer, being the driver was really dis-serviced. Quick example we can relate too, we all get upset when going through a drive through with our children only to find when we get home that part of our order wasn’t put in the bag or the special sandwich order wasn’t done correctly right!  I bet our first thought is of that employee that didn’t do their job correctly, probably not in those nice of terms though.  It’s all the same thing, the task just isn’t done if it’s not done correctly & I think it all starts with the mind set of doing it right and staying focused on the task right.  Yep, it’s hard, Distractions are all around us all day long but remember we’re only in our present position short term, in it for the experience & our goal is to be recognized by our management team as the absolute best at it, the easiest way of doing that is just staying focused on the task when we’re on the floor and performing the job right?

It’s just important that we stay focused, do our jobs the best that we can and remember our goal is to earn that next task, next position & next promotion.

Oh, another thing I ran into later in the week, In one of the Powered Industrial Equipment classes that was scheduled, it was a full class of 6 new Associates, one of the young gentlemen didn’t really understand, and maybe it had been poorly explained to him, that the class was 4 hours long AND he would be on-sited at the facility later that day.  A long story short, and I wasn’t actually there for the class, but after investigating I found that the associate probably could of handled his frustrations a bit better.

Remember, from the time we send in our Resume we’re asking for a job, everything we do and say from that moment on is a reflection of our Character and may be reviewed or considered by our prospective employer and once hired we’ll be meeting many others within the company, and that each one of them is really interested in us, we’re going to be helping ease their responsibilities BUT make no mistake we’re also being sized up for our experience and how well we’ll fit in, another words can we perform the job and do well at it.

Now the company has a responsibility to give us the proper opportunity to succeed, the right training and the chance to show them we’re a perfect fit for this task and perfect for the job BUT it’s our responsibility to treat everyone with respect and understand that there’s processes and procedures that have to be followed, that we have to follow.  We’ve asked for a job and been given the job.  By all means, if were asked to do something that we feel is wrong, unethical or not safe, we need to speak up immediately but let’s be professional in everything we do.  It’s never going to go our way if we raise our voices or make a scene in any way.  A new job is stressful, remember we have a lot to learn about how to perform it and how our team works together to accomplish it.

While we’re just reviewing the week I’ll share one more story that I really struggled with, I hadn’t planned on sharing it today, it really bothered me, maybe not the situation in particular but the Human Nature side of it I struggled with for a bit.  We’ve discussed that pesky human trait in a couple of different episodes and I find it keeps popping up throughout my career and I still haven’t learned to ignore it, not have I figured out how we let it overcome us in our jobs.

A Lumper, I’d call him an accomplished Unloader, a professional individual, I know he’s worked at least 3 places over the last 4 years and for the last 4 months had been working at a facility he had previously worked for before.  By all accounts he’s a great guy, works hard, shows up every day but feels it’s his responsibility to watch out for everyone else, that’s his words not mine.  He punched out and left before completing a special load he was scheduled to unload at the end of the day.  When his Supervisor called him he stated that there were two guys still there and they could unload it, he was too far away to turn around.  The following morning upon arrival to his job he was spoken to and issued a corrective action warning.  Really just told not to let it happen again, that the team all rotated throughout the month for the last trailers and when it’s his turn he just needed to stick around and wrap it up.  This evening load usually took less than 20 minutes to complete.  We’ll the gentleman took it upon himself to start arguing with his Supervisor and pointing out different instances that spanned over like a 3 month period where others had done a variety of different things and wasn’t addressed with them.  The Supervisor explained that those infractions were addressed and that he couldn’t always share disciplinary actions with everyone but that they needed to stick to the conversation at hand and lets just correct this situation going forward, calm down and lets wrap up todays loads.  The employee wouldn’t drop it and eventually was asked to take the day off, go home and calm down and come back to work the next day ready to do the job and work as a team.  We need to take care of our own jobs!  Of course if we ever feel an injustice is occurring or a member of Management is not doing his or her job in a professional manner or fairly we have the right and should go to the next person in line and share our concerns, that’s their job.  It is not our job though to be concerned with others jobs, nor should we assume we know how others have been dealt with.  We’re on OUR Career path & we have our OWN goals in mind, we should do our Job and be concerned with doing it to the best of our ability.  Again, I understand sometimes it’s difficult to follow directions, it’d probably be easier if we know the Why but that’s just not always going to be the case.  Let’s do our part, do it well, go cash our checks and reach for that next position and task.  The gentleman lost two days’ pay for absolutely no reason other than he wanted to get in the last word on something that should have been as easy as saying “I know what you’re saying and I’ll check with someone next time” Done – it would have been over with!

On a much more typical note, I had the honor of working with 4 young men heading toward their goals of leadership, it’s going to be exciting working with them over the next quarter and I’ll be sure and share how well their doing as they progress to their future Supervisor roles!

If you have a Customer Service or Setting the Plate story or a promotion or advancement you’d like to share with our group shoot me an email to host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and I’ll put it in a show, maybe we can all learn from it and save an error on our part.  Thanks for listening in today, please post on our Twitter and Facebook pages if you found or heard anything interesting and tell a friend about our program.  Have a great week & speak up at your start-up Safety meeting tomorrow, get noticed and get on your supervisor’s radar as that employee that’s really interested in a Culture of Safety!

Do your work with all your heart and you will succeed.” ~Elbert Hubbard

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