EFFECTIVE INTERNAL CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE BEDROCK OF EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE DELIVERY



Every organisation strives to remain relevant and competitive in business.  Organisations tend to do this by focusing on surpassing their customers’ expectations and ensuring consistency in delivering excellent customer experience. However, many organisations erroneously hold customer facing departments responsible for the overall customer experience of the organisation and fail to focus on the primary path to exceptional customer service: internal customer service. 

Internal customer service simply refers to support services provided by staff of an organisation to fellow employees and other departments within the same organisation, as well as to service providers.

In a financial institution, for instance, it could be a back-office transaction processing; a central processing centre of a bank that ensures customers’ account requests made through the branches are promptly treated.

It could also be what we do when colleagues ask for information they need to complete their main task for the day, or what we say when someone from marketing asks for the addresses of good contacts, or even how we react when colleagues walk into our office with an "I need something from you" expression on their faces.

Superior internal customer service is the bedrock of exceptional external customer service. It improves morale, productivity, employee retention and, ultimately, profitability. Caring for your "associates" is fundamental to caring for your customers and shareholders.

Effective internal customer service helps organisations create a sense of ownership among their employees through improved interdepartmental communication and cooperation which lead to better service delivery to their external customers, cost savings and of course increased productivity.

Internal customer service however does not just happen. Organisations have to deliberately ensure that all staff and departments see the big picture; work together to ensure customers have a great experience with the services received which in turn positively affects the company’s bottom line.

Three major ways to promote an excellent internal service culture within an organisation include:

Develop a service culture within the organisation: Service excellence must be at the very core of every organisation.  This can be achieved by regularly communicating the importance of teamwork and excellent service to all employees of the organisation. To effectively drive this culture, organisations must also focus on building quality leaders who understand the importance of great service delivery both internally and externally.

Staff must be encouraged to regard fellow employees and other departments as customers that must be treated like VIPs, with the understanding that by helping their colleagues do their jobs more successfully, they help the organisation excel.

Measure service internally: Great service is measurable! To ensure every department or team is constantly committed to exceptional service, they must be rated based on agreed service parameters from time to time. This can be done by closely monitoring the activities of these departments through mystery shopping, conducting internal satisfaction surveys on every department in the organisation and ensuring all feedback and concerns raised are properly addressed.



Recognise and reward great service: This can be achieved by creating specific reward criteria in service and recognising every staff or department that meet these criteria. Every back office department that has provided excellent service to the frontline staff over a period of time should be celebrated and rewarded. Rewarding performance will motivate employees and support groups within the organisation to maintain and improve their performance while encouraging others to imbibe a great service culture.
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