Everyone has an example of a time they received terrible service – whether it was being left standing in a shop while an assistant talked on the phone, being left hanging on a phone call listening to strange pan pipe muzak for hours or dealing with someone who didn’t take the time to understand their product or service and your requirements.
We’ve all been there and chances are that we have gone on to share our experience with quite a few friends and colleagues. There’s no doubt, poor service can be fatal. There is so much competition out there that if we don’t like what we get, we can quite simply move on to another provider.
On the other hand great customer service can become a sales channel for targeting new business and it’s absolutely free!
When we talk about customer service, we often go straight to thinking about the way we were managed by an external provider but, customer service is also about the way we manage and work with our internal customers.
Internal customer service is the service we provide for our colleagues or for other departments within our business. When colleagues ask for our help, the way we respond is a reflection of our internal customer service philosophy. And, in the same way that external customers talk about customer service, so do our co-workers and colleagues! Yes, the gossip around the water cooler may well be about the way you or your team member managed a request for support.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter whether we are providing service to an internal or external customer, it should always be good.
The benefits of great internal service include streamlined processes and increased companywide cohesiveness. But how do you go about making sure that internal service is great?
One of the key steps is to make sure that you have clear expectations and that everyone involved in the process knows, understands and buys into their part. To achieve this you need good, clear and open communications around expectations, priorities and standards.
The second key is to clarify exactly what the project or task requirements are. Make sure you know about lead times, deliverables, deadlines and resources and be honest with your customer about what you can and can’t deliver.
Make sure that everyone understands priorities. Every customer thinks their work is the most important thing in the world. Guess what – it’s not! But it’s your job to determine what is a priority and communicate that to the customer so everyone has a shared understanding.
At the end of the day, great internal customer service can make for a harmonious workplace that hums along and generates success for a business or operation.