Serve your [internal] customers well
Only by having a stellar service quality within your own departments a company can provide the same outstanding service to its customers.
All companies state that their customers and their customer care are at the top of their priority list. Also, all proficient Business Leaders envisage achieving outstanding performance and recognition for their customer experience.
All this focus on our customer satisfaction and loyalty lacks equal attention to how our internal customers are being served. It is usual when working with middle management in our clients to find some that struggle to understand the concept of the internal customer. We always drive area and team leaders to think and act as if their departments were an actual business unit that they manage. If they do that, the flowing step is obvious - as all businesses alike, they must provide their customers [other areas within the company] with the same stellar experience.
It is almost impossible to achieve an outstanding perception of the quality of our business services from our external clients if the internal customers do not provide an outstanding service to each other. A commitment to serve internal customers invariably shows itself to external customers.
A great rule of thumb is to apply the same guidelines and expectations to customer service to your internal customers – Finance, IT, HR, R&D and others – all included.
Here are three simple steps that might help you improve the service quality within your company:
1) Look for feedback
No better cure than an exhaustive, repetitive, and intense search for feedback from the client areas. We usually challenge the managers to pick two of their most important internal customers and ask for a real, formal quality assessment, based on pre-defined criteria. They must make the other area take this assessment seriously, so the right amount of formality is needed.
If they do it right, they will end up with the perception of quality from their [internal]customer.
2) Take action
Looking for feedback is just the first step. In the assessment meeting, be ready to discuss what your department can do to provide better service. This will bring some complaints to the table, but also some useful insights, from the customer perspective, of what you are doing wrong and how to improve. Often managers at these meetings become aware that some of their deliverables were really not so useful for other areas and other issues that were really critical were not being attended to.
How can that be? Most times lack (or no) communication is the root cause of simple problems, that can have a huge impact.
3) Follow up. Transform procedures into a culture
Good initiatives sometimes lose traction at the very beginning, and they fail miserably. If you successfully gather an assessment and insights from your internal customers, just follow the book: act and provide constant feedback. Make others feel that you care, and you are working to improve your service. Make sure that issues are solved in a timely manner and that everyone has the right feedback. Helping each other within your company should be an intrinsic value for all your employees, not a task or obligation.
Make sure this happens – your internal customers will perform better, and, in the end, your final customers will love it.