For employees, internal customer service sets the tone on how your customers get treated. If you treat internal customers with kindness and respect, your external customers are more likely to be treated the same way. It is imperative to the success of your company to provide great internal customer service. Every employee will also benefit from getting trained for customer service skills. This will open lines of communication between departments, reinforce the processes of the company and encourage interaction. Your employees are your best and biggest resource. They will gain increased job satisfaction when you invest in them, which impacts external customer satisfaction directly. Don’t forget that satisfied customers are created by satisfied employees.
Here is a course entitled Customer Service that will help you learn about customer service work, career advancement tactics and methods for successful customer relations. You might also like this article entitled 10 Customer Service Tips to Improve Your Bottom Line.
Who Are Internal Customers?
Internal customers are those involved in an organization and are dependent at any time on others in the organization. They can be situational customers that might be dependent on someone in the firm for once a year or once a week.
Internal customers can also be someone who works for you, or someone you work for. You would be dependent on them to help you with your responsibilities, and they may be dependent on you to get training and do the best possible job.
One example of an internal customer is the payroll department head. If this person depends on managers from other departments to call in the payrolls of employees on time, and one or two are late, the payroll head can’t hand out checks for payroll on time.
Providing Internal Customer Service
From the perspective of a worker, evaluate the company at every level. There should be an inclusion of entry-level workers to management. The most detailed results will be provided by a full overview. On a quarterly basis which is every 3 months, provide a survey that has to do with work-satisfaction. Directly from workers, get feedback about what in the workplace they would like to see more of. You will be able to determine what employees value by the positive feedback. Inquire about what they feel are problems with their positions. Get ideas from them for how to solve the problem. Rank and review each complaint to be amended in order for good workers to be maintained. For issues that are take more time to rectify, incorporate reports of progress. Find methods to prevent issues that are affecting workers adversely. For instance, satisfaction in the workplace might rely on the ability to have the necessary tools for effectively completing tasks. Implementing another system or new equipment might allow for more productivity based on a change that happened internally. So that external customers will be treated better, make employee needs your priority.
Here are some actions you can immediately put into effect to ensure that you are delivering internal customer service that is exceptional:
- Be dependable and reliable. Deliver on what you claim you are going to do and make sure it is error-free.
- Have an upbeat attitude. No matter how much you have on your plate, don’t make co-workers feel that simple requests are a big imposition.
- Show that you are willing to help. If you are unable to answer questions that a co-worker asks you or provide the needed information, ask for more information or offer an alternate contact. Your job is to be an asset to the organization, not just to one person and dropping the ball is never a good idea.
- Respond to voice-mail and email. If you are unable to answer your mail within the day, get the message acknowledge and give a time-frame to your co-worker for when you can get back to them. There is a tendency for the organization’s workflow to be hindered when you don’t respond or acknowledge mail in a timely manner.
Making the effort to provide exceptional service to internal customers goes a long way in opening career opportunities, positioning your for success and burnishing your reputation. Plus, you’ll have a lot of very happy colleagues that advocate for you. By the way you might want to check out this course entitled Customer Service Training that teaches you the basics of customer service and its practical applications that you could use for your own business.
For an organization, high levels of internal customer service offer a boost in morale. When one department’s employees take care of an employee’s needs or the needs of employees from another department, mutual cooperation and teamwork are enhanced. Ultimately, this benefits external customers since more satisfied employees are taking care of them. Here is a course entitled Developing You: A Fresh Look at You and Customer Service, which is a series by Dr. David Barrowman that will challenge the way you think about yourself as a person in relations to business.
The idea that the employees of your company are your organization’s internal customers is what internal customer service is all about. In different departments, employees rely on each other for job success and enjoyment, and every employee relies on basic appreciation and respect from the top.
A Total Company Effort
Internal customer service is an effort from the total company. It is not just the front liners who deal with external customers. Rather, the front line is everyone supporting the organization.
Cost Savings and Profitability
Often, there are bottom-line benefits that companies who take care of their employees find in the form of better cost savings and profit and reduced turnover. Employees that are happy tend to work more effectively and efficiently, reducing inefficiencies and increasing productivity.
Opening Lines of Communication
There are successful firms using internal customer service and they have guidelines you might want to follow. One example is UPS claiming that treating workers well and placing importance on them will foster customer service that is better for external clientele. This principle might work in your own company as well, and you might want to imitate it. This way your company can help provide the best imaginable internal customer service that leads to an increase in profits. One idea is to create a policy of open communication for complaints, whether in-person or through email about the equipment of the company and other productivity-affecting issue.
Making your workforce feel that their concerns matter is the way to provide internal customer service. Being proactive in avoiding productivity hindrance and resolving issues works well for both employers and employees. An in-depth understanding of the role of each working and providing solutions is required by internal customer service. For example, a manager should never fail to resolve a complaint for poor equipment. This is important because internal customer service does affect the way external customers are treated. Excellent cooperation and communication between departments forms part of the foundation of internal customer service.
Get to Know the Team
Schedule quick calls just to check in and see what is going on in other departments or go to lunch with co-workers. It takes some effort to do this, but it is usually worth it.
Setting Clear Expectations
Internal service providers have the responsibility for setting guidelines that are clear about what internal customers can expect within reason. There are SLAs or Service Level Agreements implemented by some organizations that define what internal customers can expect from the service providers. Even without an SLA, however, there can be exceptional internal customer service if the provider has clarified which expectations are reasonable to the internal customers. When making requests, expectations also need to be communicated by internal customers regarding quality and timeline before they make the request. Typically, last minute requests are due to planning poorly on the part of internal customers. If someone makes a request while you are working on something urgent, identify how important their request is compared to yours. If expectations are unrealistic, explain your priorities, workflow, timeline and processes. Next, reinforce the goal of providing top not internal customer service to them.
Keep Customers Updated on the Progress of the Project
Nobody likes being blind-sided by last minute requests for extra information or delays. It is actually better to be erring on the side of overly communicating. If a portion of the request is something you have already accomplished, let them know what the status is and when the rest of the project will most likely be completed.
Understand What the Big Picture Is
Knowing how the entire company works, and how what you do contributes to the big picture is recommended. What do other departments need to meet their goals? Thinking outside of your department and function will go far in terms of better internal customer service.
Talk About Their Priorities
Every customer sees their own problem as an emergency but to the processes of the company, this is mentality is damaging. Between providers and customers, there needs to be clear communication to understand and negotiate priorities. A customer’s priorities are not something an internal customer service provider will understand intuitively. Having discussions that set parameters is important.
Make Promises and Keep Them
As people of ‘service,’ you will need to be reliable. The key to any great relationship between customers is this. If you say that you are getting something done by Thursday, then make sure it happens, or don’t say it at all. The same applies to deadlines and meetings. Before giving any promises, think, as nothing is more annoying to internal customers than promises broken.
When it comes to solving problems, great customer service are quick on their feet. Handle situations efficiently and quickly, develop a plan of attack and don’t procrastinate.
Developing Positive Attitudes
In everything you do, your attitude is reflected. It not only determines how you approach your co-workers and your job, but also determines their response. Do whatever it takes to get the job done correctly.
You will become better at anticipating the needs of your customers the more you know them. Regularly communicate so you are aware of upcoming needs and problems.
Make Co-Workers Feel Valued
Call your co-workers by name and recognize them with a smile. When someone comes to your desk, make eye contact, stop what you are doing and be attentive to anything they have to say.
Hope this helps! Here is a course called Customer Service Fundamentals that will introduce you to customer service and how important this is to any business.