Most customer-service representatives (CSRs) harbor grievances
against production people. Here are their more frequent
- Production people have only one response to requests: “It
can't be done.”
- They use heavy technical language that only they
- They fail to learn the end use of jobs.
- They blindly follow specifications — right out the
- They alter specifications without telling customer-service or
- They put customer disks into production, no matter how poorly
they were prepared.
- They insist that if the customer okayed it, that's how it will
be done, even if it's clearly incorrect.
- They build a lot of hedge time into schedules, creating
unnecessarily slow turnaround times.
- They don't tell sales reps or CSRs that jobs will be delivered
late until after they already are late.
- They send out proofs without checking them.
- They say what they think others want to hear.
- They let mistakes happen.
- They never admit that anything is their fault.
Not every one of these complaints is valid everywhere, all the
time, with every production person, but to the extent that they are
true, there is no excuse for this kind of behavior. CSRs should not
have to plead with production people to do the right thing for
clients. All they should have to do is let production know what the
customer wants. After that, if at all feasible, production does the
rest. When production staff fulfill customer-service requests, they
are not just doing customer service a favor. They are also helping
the customer, and thereby helping their company and themselves.
JOB DESCRIPTION FOR PRODUCTION MANAGER
Production runs more smoothly when there are sensible,
up-to-date job descriptions for each company position. That way, at
the very least, all employees know what is expected of them. (Check
out “A good job description for CSRs,” April 2001, p.
66, for a generic CSR job description. It is also available online
at www.americanprinter.com.) The following is a job
description for production managers. Naturally, it requires
fine-tuning to adapt it to specific company conditions.
- Is the liaison between sales and customer service as well as
the entire production function.
- Helps teach estimators how to devise the best production
- Takes responsibility for receiving accurate specifications and
understanding what the customer wants. If accurate and complete
specs are hard to come by, the production manager helps implement a
system to guarantee that the job is produced to customer
- Helps judge whether client specifications match the job's end
- Points out differences between jobs on estimating day and when
they are received, so they can be re-estimated.
- Is responsible for order entry, job planning and
- Informs sales and customer-service staff on how new orders can
be worked into the schedule, and on the progress of jobs in
- Constantly revises schedules, focusing on delivering all jobs
on time and holding down idle time and overtime.
- Is heavily involved in the selection of outside materials and
services directly chargeable to jobs.
- Guarantees the accuracy and quality of work done both
internally and outside the shop. To make this possible, establishes
checkpoints on work-in-progress.
- Guarantees that proofs are checked before they go to customer
service, sales or the customer.
- Motivates first-line supervisors and shop-floor workers.
- Adjusts schedules to provide time for preventive maintenance
- Informs upper management of any discrepancies between
estimating standards and actual manufacturing performance.
- Reports to the company president.
To summarize, production's role is to deliver all jobs to the
correct destination — on time, undamaged, free of errors, at
the proper quality level to satisfy their end use and delight
customers, and without causing worry for customers, sales reps or
CSRs. No matter how good a company's CSRs are, customer service
cannot exist without excellent performance by production staff