Internal customers are like a chain. Everyone you hand on work or information to is your customer. You supply them with some – thing they need and it has to be of the right quality or they can’t get it right for the external customer. Any chain is as strong as its weakest link. Your manager is your customer – you hand work and information on to your manager. So naturally you take the time to listen to what your manager has to say about you and what they require from you.
Other departments are customers. A key work relationship is between departments and if it breaks down it can cause many problems for you and your team, as well as the other department. If you become committed to listening to your customers then these people too should play a part in your considerations. The trouble is that there’s often rivalry and even active warfare between departments that should be on the same side.
The External Customer These are the people who come through the door to use your service, who buy your product or who are tenants, or whatever. They are the basic reason your organisation exists. It is pretty straightforward putting together a list of these customers and appreciating their importance, but what about colleagues at work? How important are they – to you and the external customer? The bottom line is that external customers generally rely on a range of people working together to meet their requirements. This means everyone inside the organisation making sure they provide their colleagues with the right information, materials and goods to do their part of the work to standard.
Added Value Added Value is the extra level of service or unique selling point of your product that makes your product or service different to that of your competitors. Added value is again about perception, as what one customer perceives as good added value, another will not. Another definition of customer service is related to added value; “The added value in terms of the treatment of a company’s customers to the delivery of its products and services”It’s not fair to expect commitment and unstinting loyalty from your staff if you keep them in the dark. Unless you keep your staff informed they will progressively feel that they are not a part of things. They will start to lose any sense of ‘ownership’ or responsibility.
They will lose motivation and become frustrated. Before long you will be faced with the “It’s not my job” attitude. What’s the answer? Full, regular and clear communication. 6. Lack of staff welfare Marks and Spencer are renowned for their staff welfare. They are also renowned for their customer care. If you give your staff dirty untidy rooms and toilets, what right have you to expect that they should treat customers beautifully? There had been persistent staff problems at the clothing factory. Productivity was low, absenteeism was high and labour turnover was rapid. Increasing the pipe work bonus had little effect. Shouting and threatening to fire people didn’t work either.
Finally, the staff were taken on one side and asked what they weren’t happy about and what they would change if they could have their way. Their complaints were wide ranging, but two things were criticised most frequently. These were the toilets and ladies rest room area and the absence of a pay phone. At the cost of a few hundred pounds, the former were refurbished and redecorated and the pay phone installed. Productivity, absenteeism and labour turnover rapidly improved. So did customer care. So did profits. 7. Lack of internal co-operation
Remember that everyone who works in a firm has ‘customers’. These are the people who receive their output. For example, the buyer’s customers are other members of staff. Everyone in the firm needs to be treated as a good ‘customer’. That is, they need co-operation, support, smiles, good manners, appreciation, consideration and help. If that happens, the ultimate customers – the firm’s customer – is likely to be treated better. Behaviour begets behaviour. So, if one member of your staff treats a colleague badly, they in turn may treat you badly and you, stung by this behaviour, may take it out on the final customer.
Sometimes you can produce a dramatic improvement with very simple technique… ‘How do people see you?’ Ask your colleagues to say (perhaps anonymously) how they see each other – what they think of each other’s behaviour. A new manager used to answer the phone with a blunt ‘Smith’. His colleagues perceived him as impolite, unpleasant and aggressive. Since people respond in kind they tended to treat him in the same way. And that was how he tended to treat customers.
When the error of his ways was pointed out to him, he altered his phone manner to, ‘Good morning/afternoon, Terry Smith’. This simple thing improved his relationships both with other staff and with customers. Stroking ‘Stroking’ is any kind of attention you give to (or receive from) another person. Being ‘stroked’ is a vital human need. A prolonged absence of it can cause serious adverse effect ranging from a lack of confidence to mental illness. How good a customer feels about your firm’s services is directly connected to the amount and type of strokes (ie. attention) they have received.