Excellence in Internal Customer Service by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
When we talk about customer service, most of us think about our interactions with external customers, those people who buy our products or use our service. However, if you want to make a significant impact on the overall morale at your company and improve the way external customers are treated at the same time, focusing on internal customer service is important.
Internal customers are those people within your organization to whom you provide a service. For example, if you perform research on billing when requested by a customer service representative, then that customer service representative is your internal customer. The customer service representative’s commitment to get the information for the customer is based on receiving that research from you. When you let down your internal customer, the external customer is negatively affected.
Improving internal customer service has a trickle down effect that makes customers more satisfied. In addition, it has an amazing effect on internal morale. Employees become frustrated when they can’t complete their work because they’re waiting for another department to complete theirs first. When internal customer service becomes a focus, employees appreciate each other more and feel more satisfied about the service they provide the external customer, as well.
The best way to improve your internal customer service is to focus on making reasonable commitments about the services you provide and then sticking to those commitments. It may be necessary to have a review of policies and procedures to ensure that there are realistic guidelines in place for servicing internal customers. Once those guidelines are in place, tracking the success rate of those commitment times will help you improve customer service, but will also help you to ensure your guidelines are realistic.
In addition to putting the right guidelines and expectations into place, it’s also important to create a mind shift in your organization about internal customer service. Some organizations fail to stress the importance of valuing your internal customers the same way you value external customers. Be certain to take steps to create this mind shift if it’s needed in your organization. Lead by example and make your internal customers as important as your external ones, too. If you have an appointment, for example with an employee, don’t reschedule it or run late for it, since you wouldn’t treat an external customer that way. When the mind shift starts at the top, other employees will follow suit quickly.
You’ll be amazed at the positive effect good internal customer service will have on your organization, and on your overall customer satisfaction. Treating your internal customers the way you would treat external customers may be one of the best things you can do for your company.