My view: Internal customer care is the hardest to get right – but when it is its dynamite!
What is internal customer care?
Few of us work in a vacuum.
We work in organisations with colleagues and contacts. All these people are each others internal customers. Their actions impact on one another. They impact on you, your suppliers, contacts and the external customer.
My belief that internal customer care is hardest to achieve comes from 2 facts:
The Focus on the Consumer.
Companies focus on the external customer – the consumer – so they forget or down play internal customer relationships. The impact of this is that we are rarely encouraged to think about or focus on our internal customer relationships.
Secondly, The Compartmentalised Operation.
Most companies are organised as compartments. Member’s of departments X and Y are often physically separate from each other.
Even if they are not separated, there is usually more of a ‘departmental focus’ and ‘team feeling’, than a ‘company focus’ or ‘company team feeling’.
Incidentally, these issues fostered the popularity of the ‘outward bound’ interdepartmental team building courses so popular in the 80s & 90s.
Barriers need to be broken down and bridges built before internal customer relationships can flourish.
Organisations with good internal customer care foster the organisation as a team:
- Have excellent company wide communication mechanisms. For example: newsletters, interdepartmental meetings, team talks, inter-company socials, joint training and development sessions. All these are opportunities to interrelate and communicate.
- Actively promote team building in the organisation, and involving all levels.
To enable the role of the Internal Customer in achieving high standards of customer service:
- Ensure there is an awareness of the fact that everyone in the company is a ‘customer’ to everyone else – entailing training in the skills and knowledge to achieve more awareness.
- Promote and advocate the fact that customer service is essential.
- Create the culture, with processes, knowledge and skills to achieve high levels of customer service.