Internal customer service involves everything an organization can do to help their employees fulfill their duties, reach their goals and enjoy their work. It covers how different departments communicate with each other and how individuals interact with their colleagues, subordinates and superiors. It is a vital aspect of modern business as it creates the environment within which a company is most likely to succeed.
Here is a complete guide to everything you need to know about internal customer service.
Why is Internal Customer Service Important?
The importance of internal customer service cannot be overstated, especially for a department such as human resources where internal interactions are part and parcel of their daily duties. There are multiple benefits to cultivating good internal customer service as one of your business goals, so it is easy to why it is such a valued aspect of modern business.
The benefits include:
- Boosting staff productivity.
- Increasing employee satisfaction with their work experience.
- Creating clear communication channels.
- Encouraging staff loyalty.
- Solving problems quicker.
- Improving external customer service.
18 Internal Customer Service Tips
There are a lot of tips and customer service best practices that can be implemented within a company to develop excellent internal customer service. Creating a program that consists of all or most of these elements can have a huge impact on productivity and staff morale.
Here are 18 of the most reliable ways to make sure your internal customer service is up there with the best.
1. Label Employees as Internal Customers
Every employee should be considered an internal customer as it will improve the communication an training protocols. This is especially important to HR, as it is their role to serve other departments, either via recruiting, communicating or disciplining. They also provide services such as mediation and other employee relations, as well as training and staff benefits.
2. Be Sure to Show Respect
Respect inspires respect and openly exhibiting this aspect throughout the organization will greatly increase the quality of a company’s communication and teamwork. With a program of respecting the needs of each individual as well as each department, a business can thrive thanks to the cohesion and support the workforce offers each other.
3. Decide on a Communication Schedule that Fits Both Parties
Staff morale can decrease dramatically when they feel like they are not being listened to. Problems that need solving for individuals and departments shouldn’t be ignored just because they are not the highest priority when it comes to the bottom line. Good customer service involves creating a communication schedule where everybody gets the chance to be heard.
4. Have Multiple Communication Channels to Contact Your Internal Customer Service Departments
As communication is the key to so much about good internal customer service, it is also important to program multiple communication channels that employees can use to discuss issues of importance. This means an openness to face-to-face contact, as well as emails, phone numbers and even a choice of superiors to discuss issues with.
5. Know the Organization Structure and Visualize it with a Chart
An organizational structure enables employees to know exactly who to talk to about any given issue, regardless of the teams they are assigned to in the organization. For example, a mail room attendant needs to know who they can talk to about an issue with sorting mail, while the same company’s marketing team or sales department will need a different communication channel for their particular issues. The CEO may be the most authoritative role, but they don’t need to be involved in every internal issue as there are managers lower down the ladder who are content to handle the job issues being communicated by their subordinates.
6. Make Sure Everyone Fully Understands Their Roles and Responsibilities
A lesser obvious part of internal customer service is developing a program of pre-emptive problem-solving. This means making sure every employee is aware of the full content of their role and responsibilities. This prevents confusion and clashes over who is supposed to be doing what task.
7. Maintain Two Way Transparency
It is not just the subordinates who must be transparent with their actions at work, it is also good for the managers and directors to show their worth to the company too. Employees who don’t understand the unique content of their superior’s role can consciously or subconsciously lose respect for the authority of that role.
8. Create a Rewarding Company Culture of Service
People need to feel valued as it is an inherent part of our natural inclination towards building communities and teams. This instinct is significantly enhanced in the workplace, so a company culture where cultivating customer loyalty is a priority means having a program to reward effort and good work. This culture program of boosting employee morale creates a happier work experience for productive employees doing their best to drive the company forward in unison with their co-workers.
9. Always Have a Positive Attitude
Positivity isn’t just about smiles and encouraging words, but also about creating a program to provide timely solutions to problems and making sure each team and individual employee has everything they need to do the best job they can. When inevitable problems arise, a good service is proactive in finding a solution to improve the working experience.
10. Get Feedback from Internal Customers – and Act on it
With the communication channels already established, it is important to listen to the feedback and information from the teams of employees and their experience in the workplace. They are the internal customers and the audiences with the most valuable input, so any adjustments to the procedures and processes they suggest because of their experience should be taken seriously by those in charge. Such feedback response is a vital component of a happy and productive workplace.
11. Have a Clear Set of Expectations and Service Standards
You should eliminate any possibility that an internal customer can claim they didn’t understand what was expected of them, especially when it comes to customer interactions. All types of standards must have a clear definition and all employees fully aware of their responsibility to maintain those standards.
12. Reiterate Expectations Often
Following on from making expectations and company standards clear for employees in the first place, is the regular reiteration of the relevant standards. Some basic common standards won’t necessarily need regular reminders, but there will be some that do, such as a sales team’s attitude and demeanor when speaking with clients. It may also be something like the aforementioned positivity and proactive problem-solving that should be kept at the forefront of every internal customer’s mind.
13. Let Team Members know You’ve Received Emails
If one of the communication channels between teams of employees is via their email address, then this has the potential to cause issues if replies to internal customer queries are not forthcoming. That’s why every email sent from a company’s email address should be replied as soon as possible even if the query is not yet able to be answered. Just letting the sender of the email know their message has been received and is being taken care of will improve internal customer satisfaction.
14. Solve Problems Quickly and Efficiently
One of the best practices of good internal customer service for all companies is quick problem-solving. When teams or a single internal customer has a complaint, it should be heard and the information acted upon as quickly as possible. By leaving such problems highlighted by employees unsolved, it creates a bad atmosphere and lowers staff morale.
15. Always Inform Customers of the Project Progress
The progress of company projects should not just be something for CEOs and other higher-ups of companies to experience. Everybody in the company plays a part either directly or indirectly regardless of their relation to the products or services the firm provides, and it is rewarding and morale-boosting for each member of the team to receive news of progress. Such news and information regarding the overall business goals and success of the products, services and brands is good product management and fosters an excellent team spirit and togetherness, and lets everyone on the team know their efforts are valued.
16. Get to Know your Internal Customers
By knowing your internal customers on a more personal level, a customer service team can cultivate a better working relationship by understanding each individual’s needs. Internal customers with young families, for example, are less likely to be able to work weekends than an employee who is single.
Other internal customers may also be more ambitious than others and seek a program with training opportunities to increase their responsibilities. Other small details like having the phone number of every worker and how much privacy each one prefers during their daily routine can be beneficial to the overall employee experience.
17. Give Frequent Customer Service Training
Similar to setting out a program of company standards and expectations, it is also important that staff knows the best customer service practices and receives frequent customer service training so they can develop their experience. Develop a philosophy of customer service that every internal customer understands and knows how to implement.
18. Train Employees About Other Jobs Within the Company
Training employees in skills beyond what they need for their usual daily tasks can empower them. It obviously helps the company as well by ensuring employees can cover different departments in a business for each other should there be absences, but it also makes each employee feel valued.
What is internal customer service?
Internal customer service involves multiple departments within a business coordinating together to achieve the aims of the company.
For example, the recruitment process isn’t just a job for one employee or even one department. Someone will be responsible for advertising the job, another for screening and interviewing candidates at a service desk. HR will then on-board the successful candidate and provide orientation. The accounts department will then enter them into the system so that they can be paid. You may also involve the IT department or other industry experts who must ensure the new employee has the equipment they need all set-up and ready to go on their first day.
This requires a lot of cross-team communication and inter-departmental teamwork, all of which falls under the umbrella of internal customer service.
What are examples of internal customers?
Internal customers are anybody that has a relationship with or a role within a company.
Internal customer examples include:
What are examples of external customers?
External customers are anyone paying for the products or services a company provides but is otherwise not part of the company.
Such external customers include those:
- Buying a product
- Using a service
- Customers renting or hiring a product
- Clients paying for a provided service
What is the difference between internal and external customers?
External customers have been the driving force behind business ventures since business began, while the concept of internal customers is fairly new and ultimately a method for creating a positive and productive work environment.
External customers are the ones businesses are trying to attract to pay for their products or services, while internal customer service is about creating a positive and productive work environment for the people who provide the product to external customers.
How do you build relationships with internal customers?
There are a number of tried and trusted ways to build better relationships with internal customers.
These methods include:
- Show respect and you will get respect in return.
- Build trust in character and ability.
- Open clear lines of communication.
- Respond to feedback.
What effect does poor internal customer service have?
Allowing poor internal customer service to foster in your company means running the risk of losing your best talent as they become dissatisfied with their work experience.
Often the best employees are left picking up the slack from poorly trained employees who lack the abilities or knowledge to perform their duties correctly. This lowers morale, decreases motivation and ultimately inhibits productivity.