3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Internal Customer Service
Fred is really good at the technical parts of his job, but colleagues dread having to work with him. Susan thinks being abrupt means being efficient, and her terse emails always put people on edge. If you need something from Sam, don’t expect it anytime soon — unless, of course, he needs something from you in return.
Chances are that some, if not all of these, sound familiar to you — and it doesn’t take many Freds, Susans or Sams to make a workplace a not very fun place to be. Although their behaviour might suggest otherwise, most of them are actually pretty decent people. They really just haven’t thought much about the importance of internal customer service.
What is Internal Customer Service, and why should you care?
Internal customer service is, to put it simply, the way in which you treat your colleagues. It begins with the awareness that, at any time, in every organization, individuals have to work both independently and interdependently. Directly or indirectly, you and your coworkers all impact each other’s lives at work, and you all play a role in each other’s success. The better everyone is at internal customer service, the better everyone’s experience at work ultimately is – and the better an organization functions.
It’s the foundation of customer experience
Customer experience has long been recognized as a core driver of organizational success. And one thing we’ve learned is that it is impossible for a company to deliver this if its internal culture doesn’t support it. That’s the primary reason why the most effective training approach for improving customer service levels typically includes everyone in an organization, and not just those who interact directly with customers.
This approach creates communication pathways and relationships that help break down silos. It builds trust within groups and between departments, and alignment with managers and employees.
Three things you can do to improve your internal customer service right now
One thing for sure is that you don’t want to be that person who is unintentionally alienating your colleagues. Here are three things you focus on right now to ensure you’re on the right track:
1. Be 100% responsive to requests from colleagues
When colleagues email you or leave you a message – even if its about something you don’t feel is important or if you can’t get at it right away – respond immediately. Let them know you got the message, and set their expectations as to when you can get it done.
Whatever you do, do NOT ghost a coworker – ever. (or a customer or supplier for that matter). It is disrespectful and unprofessional.
2. Don’t be too quick to judge
Emotional exhaustion is a real thing, and over the last year it has impacted everyone to some extent. This includes your coworkers — and quite possibly you. (To get an idea of how much it has affected you, check out this free assessment). Some of the common symptoms are a decline in energy and the ability to focus, learn and adapt; feelings of detachment; and decreased work satisfaction.
The reality is that very few people are at the top of their games right now, so be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (and recognize that reduced patience and empathy on your part are two other symptoms of emotional exhaustion).
3. Give the gift of endorphins
Studies have shown that receiving a simple compliment activates the same part of the brain as if someone has given you cash. The best part is that when you give people compliments, not only will they feel batter about themselves, they will also feel better about you. It can be a direct compliment, such as “Susan, that presentation was awesome!” It can be an indirect, like asking someone for advice on something. (Don’t take my word for this, try it, and see the results for yourself.)
Don't underestimate the difference you can make
While it’s true that the positive impact on a workplace culture is far greater when everyone is doing things like these (hence the value of internal customer service training), don’t underestimate the impact of the difference you can make.
“We might not be able to influence world events, but we most certainly can exert great influence in our own little parts of the universe. We can impact our families, our friends, our coworkers, our companies, our lives. We have an opportunity, every day, to change the odds in our favour.”
– Win at Work: Navigate the Nasties, Get Things Done and Get Ahead