A first-rate internal customer service program can transform your business from a disjointed, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation to a well-oiled, profit-making machine.
External customer service is important, too. But your company's ability to coordinate the various internal stakeholders who are responsible for producing deliverables is something that simply can't be ignored.
Internal customer service solves problems and facilitates the flow of information and/or resources within the organization. Although it involves some of the same techniques as external customer service (e.g. efficient delivery systems, communication skills, timely follow-up), it requires no interaction with customers. Instead, it addresses the needs of the people your business relies on to manufacture, sell and support your products.
Good internal customer service doesn't require the implementation of a complex call-center. But it does require the application of a handful of fundamental internal customer service tips and concepts.
- Promote buy-in. Organizational buy-in is a critical first step of internal customer service. Everyone in the organization needs to agree with the concept and be willing to proactively execute internal customer service principles in the workplace.
- Encourage initiative. Internal customer service programs thrive in proactive work environments. A complicated, bureaucratic approach to internal customer service defeats the purpose. Encourage and empower your staff to take the initiative when it comes to internal customer service concepts.
- Design information sharing mechanisms. Owners and company leaders can seed internal customer service practices by creating mechanisms that facilitate the flow of information. Although technology plays a role, you should also consider non-technological mechanisms like information-sharing forums and interdepartmental workshops.
- Create a collaborative culture. One of the best things you can do to encourage internal customer service is to create a collaborative company culture. In addition to modeling collaborative work routines, discourage "lone ranger" attitudes and train your team in collaborative work models.
- Recognize excellence. You'll know what good internal customer service looks like when you see it working in your organization. Recognize and reward exceptional efforts to demonstrate the priority your company places on internal customer service.