"There's a remarkably close and consistent link between how internal customers are treated and how external customers perceive the quality of your organisation's services. A commitment to serve internal customers invariably shows itself to external customers. It's almost impossible to provide good external service if your organisation is not providing good internal service." (Jan Carlzon, who dramatically turned around failing Scandinavian Airlines in the 1980s)
What is meant by an ‘internal customer’? An internal customer or internal service provider can be anyone within the company. This could be a co-worker in another department, or perhaps the person who sits next to you every day. Or further afield, this could mean a distributor/ supplier we depend on to provide products or services (which in turn are used to create a great experience for our external customers).
We know already that great external customer service creates customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer retention. So why does internal customer service matter?
Outstanding internal customer service leads to extraordinary external customer service. We must ensure we are applying the same rapport building techniques and customer service to our colleagues and people within the company as we would with a customer. This creates a great working environment - highly motivated and happy teams outperform a demotivated team every time. Teams that work in a positive environment are far more likely to recreate that environment for their customers, leading to external success.
Not only does excellent internal customer service lead to excellent external customer service, but excellent service to our customers is dependent upon healthy internal customer service. Improving our internal customer services leads to us being able to cut costs, increase productivity, improve communication, boost morale and therefore deliver better service to our external customers.
So how can we ensure our internal customer service is extraordinary?
1. Get to know your teammates.
Go to lunch with other people in other departments, where possible say good morning and good evening to everyone every day. Schedule quick calls/ chats just to check in and see what’s happening in their department. Get to know everyone around you personally; you might just find a new best friend!
2. Get the “big picture.”
Get an understanding of how the whole of your business works. How does what you do every day contribute to the company? What do other departments need from you to meet their goals? Think outside of your own desk and your own department.
3. Treat people how you wish to be treated.
When you receive an email that requires some work or research, let the person know that you received it and you’ll work on it. Do not let it sit in your inbox for days until you get around to replying – after all, you wouldn’t do that to a customer!
4. Build Rapport.
Acknowledge co-workers with a smile and call them by their name. When someone approaches your desk stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and be attentive to what they have to say.
5. Have a positive attitude.
Your attitude is reflected in everything you do. It not only determines how you approach your job and your co-workers, but it also determines how they respond to you. Avoid complaining and spending time focussing on the negatives, and instead focus on doing what it takes to get the job done - and done right.