Local businesses for the most part know that it is important to give good customer service. Honestly, I don’t think there is any business that purposely goes out of its way to treat its customers badly. Why then is it a common mantra, that customer service is generally poor?
The first thing to note is that, in business, like in any other situation, if you don’t put a focus on cultivating that particular attitude, tenet, value or goal – it will not magically rise to the surface and attach itself to you and your business. Thus, while many businesses do not preach “treat the customers badly!” to their employees, their lackluster or half hearted approach to customer service amounts to almost or perhaps the same shoddy customer experience. It is a spin off of the common adage, “Know where you’re going, or you will go anywhere.” (That sounds like my version of it honestly, but I’m sure you get the picture!)
As we focus on customer service in these next few weeks, I want to start us off by differentiating between two kinds of customer service. External customer service is the way in which a company serves the people who pay for the goods and services that it provides. Internal customer service refers to the way in which employees, providers, suppliers and vendors who are interdependent on each other, serve each other.
Effective training in customer service excellence should address the difference between this pointed definition of internal customer service, and the blanket concept of ‘treating your colleagues well’. If you teach your employees to recognize the significance and position of their place in the proverbial food chain, a lot of the qualities that companies spend thousands of dollars to teach their employees, will indeed come easier.
And there is a good reason to focus as much on your internal service providers and receivers as you do on your external customers ……Excellence in internal customer service will make a company’s business run more effectively, and be delivered more efficiently. This will in turn result in a greater level of external customer service excellence.
Companies must teach their employees to ask the question “What can I do to make my colleague’s task easier inside, in order for us to satisfy the customers outside?” When the players within a company put a premium on thorough communication, courtesy, respect, sacrifice, service, empathy and teamwork, the result is a workforce that is well oiled and harmonious enough to deliver a superior quality of service to the external customers.
In subsequent articles, we will look at some radical ways to improve both internal and external customer service, and make sure that your employees as well, buy enthusiastically into that mindset. How is internal customer service addressed in your company? We’d appreciate your feedback! Why don’t you drop us a line? The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Dublin is the Director of OSSi, a six year old training company that facilitates presentations, seminars and workshops in effective public speaking, customer service excellence, employee motivation and excellence in the workplace, career guidance, business etiquette and image management. If you do have a comment on today’s article, drop us a line at OSSi: email@example.com.