As customer service professionals we all understand the importance of providing exceptional customer care. Successful businesses aim to not only satisfy, but delight their customers. Delighted customers become those loyal followers who will purchase your product or service time and again. They are willing to recommend you to others and share their experience – both online and offline – with their family and friends. They are brand ambassadors and crucial to the success of any business,
But what about our internal advocates? Taking care of our own employees and growing a culture of care from within, will not only help to make a company a better place to work, it will also increase customer satisfaction.
Everyone – from Marketing to Operations – plays an integral role in the smooth operation of a business. They can be happy and excited about their job and the company brand – or the opposite – which could have a negative effect on co-workers, customers, and ultimately the success of a brand.
What is important to establish in a company’s culture is not only external but also internal customer care. This means that whether an employee is a first point of customer contact or not, they still see their role as a customer service role. Anyone we serve – internally or externally – is our customer.
The Customer Journey
It is possible to track the journey your customer takes to make a purchase, sign up for a service, submit an inquiry, etc. This tracking, also known as customer journey mapping, can be used to understand what is working and where there is room for improvement. It helps us review and create a more convenient and happy customer experience. So why not do the same thing internally, within a company’s organization and its various departments?
Internal Customer Service
Successful business leaders have come to the realization that there is a direct correlation between the employee experience and their ability to provide exceptional customer service. With bad interdepartmental service comes poor communication and less cooperation. This results in infighting, low morale, higher turnover, lower productivity, safety problems, miscommunications, more mistakes, and lower quality. All of these factors can hurt the bottom line.
Benefits of Excellent Internal Customer Service
Good internal customer service is good business. Here are just some of the benefits of good internal customer service.
- Cuts costs
- Increases productivity
- Improves interdepartmental communication and cooperation
- Boosts employee morale
- Helps align goals
- Harmonizes processes and procedures
- Replaces interdepartmental competition with cooperation
The most important benefit of excellent internal customer service is that it helps deliver better service to the external customer.
Stated simply: Employees are customers too, so gauging the employee experience and satisfaction is as important as customer satisfaction.
Look at all company departments and understand the journey employees take. Understanding department gaps or communication issues can help you avoid disconnects, weak links, and save time and aggravation for everyone involved in the process. Consider the employee experience. Does everyone seem informed and on the same page? Does your company provide the proper training and technology? Is your company creating a positive atmosphere, providing incentives and opportunities for career growth? Do your employees seem happy and excited to come to work each day? Observe what is working and where your company may be falling short.
Communication & Transparency
It’s important, especially as your company grows, to try to maintain communication and a solid sense of the company culture across all locations. Everyone should understand the company mission, culture and values, and then be able to concisely convey that to other employees. Find a way for this on-boarding and community reinforcement process to be both fun and memorable.
Equally important is transparency within a company. Employees like to feel part of the organization and know about any changes in protocols and processes. Keeping everyone involved and informed will not only ensure employee morale, it will keep everyone on the same page. Sending out a weekly company update or internal newsletter will keep everyone engaged and informed. Frequent company meetings give employees the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
On-Going Training and Development
Give a team what it needs to succeed by providing relevant training and tools. Having an on-going evaluation and feedback system is important to understand what is and isn’t working. There may need to be an update in technology, a more comprehensive knowledge base, or maybe the training programs need to be improved.
On-going training is critical to give both managers and supporting staff the best chance to succeed and feel confident in their daily duties. Customer Serving training and Company Certification programs, such as offered by Customer Service Institute of America, are excellent ways to help employees develop both personally and professionally, as well as gain insight into their role in the company and its processes.
The Employee Community
Whether it be through office environment enhancements, company activities, incentives, or an employee recognition and reward program – a happy community of employees often translate into more efficient and productive work, which in turn translates into a happier experience for customers. Internal social networks such as Asana or Jostle can help employees feel more connected. Parties, family gatherings or activities for staff can help them to feel valued and enhance team morale.
Even something as simple as going out of your way to make conversation, pay a compliment or praise a job well done can do much to keep up the morale. Respond to internal emails or voicemail in a timely manner, and use a courteous tone. Just as customers appreciate an employee who goes beyond the call, a co-worker will feel the same way.
To quote a world-renowned customer success leader, Herve Humler, COO and President of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company:
“I believe in the power of recognition and empowerment leading to great employee engagement. And employee engagement is critical to guest engagement. Employee empowerment and recognition is the core of our culture and how we achieve outstanding service.”
Above all, regardless of your position in the company, remember to be kind.
It really is as simple as thinking about how you would wish to be treated.
A culture of kindness will be felt by employees and customers alike, and will do much to contribute to a company’s overall success.