Every Job Is a Customer Service Job

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Every com­pany hopes for cus­tomer ser­vice excel­lence. Only a por­tion of them, how­ever, strate­gi­cally aim for this excel­lence through their day-to-day busi­ness prac­tices. And of those, an even smaller seg­ment actu­ally achieve (and main­tain) the goal.

Of the tiny busi­ness pop­u­la­tion who can truly claim cus­tomer ser­vice supe­ri­or­ity, one thing is cer­tain: Every employee owns a piece of that prize. Sim­ply put, a com­pany can­not achieve cus­tomer ser­vice excel­lence with­out first attain­ing high lev­els of effi­ciency, qual­ity, and pro­duc­tiv­ity among its inter­nal ser­vice providers.

Empha­size Inter­nal Cus­tomer Service

All too often, com­pa­nies place a strong empha­sis on exter­nal cus­tomer care while los­ing sight of the fact that inter­nal cus­tomers mat­ter just as much. Why does it mat­ter? Because some­where down the line, the ser­vice pro­vided to an inter­nal cus­tomer will show up in an exter­nal cus­tomer transaction.

(Just in case it’s not obvi­ous, an inter­nal cus­tomer is defined as any employee who depends on the tim­ing, qual­ity and accu­racy of a colleague’s work in order for them to suc­ceed in their own work.)

As a cus­tomer ser­vice con­sul­tant, what I’ve seen is that those orga­ni­za­tions in which a cus­tomer care cul­ture is truly embed­ded do not make dis­tinc­tions about inter­nal and exter­nal care. Each employee’s mis­sion is sim­ply to demon­strate excel­lence with each and every task. There’s an implicit under­stand­ing that every job is a “cus­tomer ser­vice” job.

Start With Awareness

In devel­op­ing a company-wide cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing pro­gram for a large insur­ance client, my col­leagues and I cre­ated an activ­ity called The Rip­ple Effect. Just like it sounds, the game aimed to show employ­ees the impact of their work upon oth­ers’ abil­ity to do their own job well). It proved to be one of the most pop­u­lar sec­tions of the course and pro­vided some true a-ha moments on the part of the par­tic­i­pants. Many of them admit­ted that they’d never seri­ously con­sid­ered the rip­ple effect of their work on that of their inter­nal customers—and ulti­mately on the company’s exter­nal customers.

In another ini­tia­tive (this one too aimed at help­ing employ­ees to rec­og­nize their inter­de­pen­dence), we cre­ated an Engage­ment Cycle which tracked a cus­tomer engage­ment from begin­ning to end and charted the var­i­ous inter­nal cus­tomer needs at each stage. Again the a-ha’s.

Define Cus­tomer Ser­vice as a Func­tion, Not a Department

How does your orga­ni­za­tion view cus­tomer service—as a depart­ment, a spe­cific job role, or as a respon­si­bil­ity shared by every employee?

To help you assess the level of inter­nal cus­tomer ser­vice in your orga­ni­za­tion, begin by get­ting each employee to answer some sim­ple questions:

  1. Who are your inter­nal customers?
  2. What do these cus­tomers need from you in order to do their jobs well?
  3. Are you in reg­u­lar two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion with those customers?
  4. If inter­nal cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion were mea­sured, how would you rate?

Man­agers can ask them­selves a cou­ple of addi­tional questions:

  1. How is frus­tra­tion over inter­nal cus­tomer ser­vice affect­ing morale and turnover?
  2. What does my team need to do to both pro­vide and receive excel­lent inter­nal cus­tomer service?

Teach Them to Be Good Customers

What does an orga­ni­za­tion want from its cus­tomers? Sat­is­fac­tion, loy­alty, and maybe a bit of appreciation.

Inter­nal cus­tomer ser­vice works the same way. Employ­ees will be moti­vated to con­tinue pro­vid­ing good ser­vice to cowork­ers if they’re given appro­pri­ate feed­back and, at least every once in awhile, sin­cere thanks for a job well done.

Are your employ­ees sat­is­fied? Find out today. Down­load this free employee sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey or paste this link into your browser: http://info.impactlearning.com/reg_esatsurvey.html

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vasudha Deming
Vasudha Deming is a consultant and author lucky enough to get paid for doing something she loves: helping businesses to thrive by putting values into action. She also organizes athletic races, service projects, community events, and anything else she can get her hands on. When it all gets too stressful, she heads out the door for a long-distance run.

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