We all know it’s important to roll out the red carpet for our customers, but what about our employees and co-workers? Delivering great internal customer service is critical if you want to ensure the long term success of your efforts to improve the client experience.
Your customer service is only as good as your least engaged employee.
One strategy for keeping people engaged is to pay as much attention to internal customer service as you do “external” customer service. This means being intentional about the experience you’re creating for your team members at every level, your co-workers, and your strategic partners.
This is a hot topic, so this article is in two parts. In Part Two (coming soon) we’ll talk about how you can provide your co-workers with a great experience. Today’s post, however, is dedicated to leadership. I’ll address 3 factors that affect your employee’s experience, and give you strategies for improving your internal customer service.
3 Factors that could improve your Internal Customer Service are:
- Improve Communication – both Interpersonal and Informational
- Eliminate Silo Syndrome
- Arm People with the Tools and Training they Need
Communication – Interpersonal
“Why should I worry about engaging with customers when my boss walks right by me every day and doesn’t even say hello?” If I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me, I’d have a whole lot of nickels.
How do you get an hourly employee to deliver red carpet customer service? You must model it for them.
You can improve employee relations by simply getting to know your staff on a more individual basis. Take time in the morning to check in with each of them. Smile as you walk by. Ask about their day and, better yet, ask for their opinions. Gallup studies have consistently shown the relationship between an employee and their direct supervisor/manager is of paramount importance. It’s worth taking time to cultivate that relationship if you want to improve employee retention, morale and performance.
Communication – Informational
How transparent are you with your communications? The more employees (at every level) know about what’s happening with your company, the more plugged in they’ll be to your mission and goals. They can only be positive brand ambassadors for your company if they fully understand the extent of your products & services. The more they know about what it takes financially to run your organization, the more likely they are to contribute to its success.
Communication flow from department to department is also critical to providing good internal customer service. Don’t assume you communicate enough. We are inundated with so much communication today that just one comment at a meeting or a memorandum may not be enough to get your message across.
Try choosing 3 consistent methods of getting your message across. Here are some ideas to choose from:
- Have pre-shift meetings every day at every level. (Not just department heads)
- Send an email
- Post a Memo – by the time clock, on the bulletin board, in the bathroom stalls.
- Create videos
- Use Social Media (Facebook groups, Youtube Videos, etc.)
- Utilize your In-house intranet
- Send Group Texts – very popular with the new generation
- Host monthly discussions between 2 departments that work together.
Eliminate Silo Syndrome
Silo Syndrome happens when departments don’t share information with each other and focus only on their own goals to the exclusion of others. This causes a disconnected organization full of people resistant to change, and a culture of blame.
In order to eliminate silo syndrome, you can do the following:
- Create intentional events to help cross-functional teams get to know each other.
- Put together cross functional teams to work on specific projects
- Ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal
- Be transparent about progress
- Highlight the strengths of each department towards that goal
- Have every department provide updates in front of the entire group
- Once a month, highlight a specific department. One of our clients creates a video each month that celebrates the work of one core team. They educate all staff on the role of that group and people are amazed at the work that goes into their jobs.
You have high expectations of your team, but you must them with the tools they need to do the job they’ll just be frustrated. To provide better internal customer service, meet with each one of your team members and ask these two questions:
- What tools could we provide that would better help you do your job?
- What would you like to learn to better help you do your job?
Prioritize their answers and let them know that, while you can’t do everything at once, you are listening and, more importantly, responding.
Each one of these factors could be a stand-alone series of articles, and perhaps they will be at a future date. Watch for Part II when we discuss internal customer service from a co-worker to co-worker standpoint.
In the meantime, comment below. What are your thoughts about improving internal customer service?
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, a team of experts who help leaders engage their teams to improve the customer experience. She is the author of two books on customer service including the bestselling “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers.”