Why Outstanding Internal Customer Service is Simply Good Business!

March 19, 2013

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How do I create an exceptional customer service culture within my organization?

Customer service is the foundation on which businesses are created.  It is a well-known fact that you must understand your customers and treat them with respect or you will no longer be in business.  However, oftentimes leaders neglect to recognize that creating quality products or delivering excellent services is dependant upon people, not corporations.  Leaders need to treat their employees well and instill a caring attitude in their managers and supervisors in order to be effective.  While companies tend to focus their attention and resources on external customer service, too often little attention is paid to the effect that poor internal customer service has on overall customer satisfaction and retention.

Outstanding internal customer service extends to all aspects of the organization, but it begins with you.  The old adage, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” still serves businesses well.  Sooner or later the ripple effect of your internal customer services will reach your customers.  Make sure your commitment to internal customer service matches your company’s external focus on customer care.

When we refer to customer services, we automatically think of serving our external customers’ needs.  But customer service occurs within the organization as well.  Internal customers are anyone working within or with the organization – management, other departments, consultants and vendors.  Internal customer service relates to how well your staff is serving its internal customers – how effectively are they communicating and interacting with one another?  It refers to the level of responsiveness, communication, quality, teamwork and morale experienced within the organization.  Within a cooperative, collaborative environment, employees flourish, exhibit pride, and voluntarily demonstrate higher levels of service and support.

Developing effective internal customer service contributes to reduced costs, increased productivity, and improved communication and cooperation.  Employees experience improved morale, harmonious process and practices, reduced interdepartmental competition, and better aligned goals.  As a result, the organization can deliver better service to the external customer – having healthy internal customer service practices will result in delivery of excellent external customer service.

So, how do you as a progressive leader foster a superior customer service culture for your employees?

  1.  Consider all employees of the organization as customers.  Your employees are what will make you succeed with your customers, so treating them well will serve you and your customers well.
  2. Communicate.  Let them  know the company’s goals and direction – keep them aware of what the business future holds in store.   They will then be better able to align their individual goals with  those of the organization.
  3. Exceed their expectations.  Do more for them than  expected.  Provide employees with those little extras whenever you can -  anything from an unexpected lunch to tickets to their favourite event.
  4. Be there for them.  Make yourself available and present for your employees the same way you would make yourself available for your clients.
  5. Follow up.  Ask them for their opinions and feedback.  By involving them in this way, they will be more comfortable volunteering, participating and taking ownership.
  6. Provide them with corporate give-aways.  If your company purchases client  gifts, purchase a few extra for your staff.  If  you receive gifts from your vendors, share them with your staff – it’s not the size of the gift, it’s the thought that counts.
  7. Say Thank You!  Provide your employees with the same courtesies you would your customers.  Everyone wants to be appreciated for the work they’ve done.  Take every opportunity to say thank you.