How good is your customer service? Here at HBG, we talk a lot about how we partner with our clients. I’ve noticed that our devotion to customer care flows over into the way we work together as a team, too. As HBG Operations Assistant extraordinare Alisa Morgan found out, it works the other way as well. Here’s what Alisa found out:
When someone mentions customer service, we immediately think of ourselves on the phone or in the store receiving some product or service in exchange for payment. “Did that rep greet me, take my order and solve my problem with a smile and a thank you?”We think in terms of “exceptional” or “terrible” and hardly pay a passing glance to “average” service. We have an expectation of excellence and no tolerance for terrible service.
But have you ever stopped to consider your role as an internal service provider?
We all have internal clients – co-workers and supervisors we work with in our organization. Your internal customer service with them matters: how you interact with them has a direct impact on the effectiveness of your entire team and culture of your organization.
“There’s a remarkably close and consistent link between how internal customers are treated and how external customers perceive the quality of your organization’s services,” writes Benjamin Schneider, senior research fellow, CEB Valtera and Management and Organizations Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.
Schneider notes that a “commitment to serve internal customers invariably shows itself to external customers. It’s almost impossible to provide good external service if your organization is not providing good internal service. Without a commitment to high-quality service inside an organization, service to end-user consumers will surely suffer.”
The way we treat each other matters. If you haven’t recently, take stock of how you serve your co-workers and renew your own commitment to provide excellence within your own team. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Am I keeping a positive attitude? Nothing robs energy from an organization faster than a negative work attitude. Don’t be the person whose first thought is ‘NO’. Instead, do whatever it takes to get the job done—and done right. If you tend to view every interruption as a distraction, reexamine those interruptions. If someone interrupts you to share gossip, maybe that’s a distraction. But if someone interrupts you to ask for figures she needs for a report, that’s a necessary diversion that will move your organization closer to its destination.
2. Am I communicating with honesty and respect? If a task is outside your level of expertise, or if you cannot meet the requested deadline, admit it. Then offer to facilitate by finding alternative options. Honesty earns respect. The same holds true when you make a mistake. Admit it, apologize, and learn from it.
3. Am I working to solve and not create more problems? Great customer service providers have to be quick on their feet. You must quickly analyze a situation and decide what needs to be done to solve the problem. Develop a plan of attack, and handle the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible. Don’t leave a job half-done in expectation that someone else will handle the part you don’t know how to do.
4. Do I respond in a timely manner? Returning phone calls and responding to emails as quickly as possible sends the message that your coworker’s needs are important to you, and that you are available and eager to provide whatever assistance is needed. Deliver on your promises with speed, accuracy and quality. If you promised something by Friday, deliver it on Thursday if you can. Be the coworker who can be relied upon.
5. Am I a team player? Find ways to support the success of your fellow employees, make their jobs easier and make them look good. Simple things like providing complete information, speaking positively about co-workers and meeting your commitments to internal customers not only help them look great; they reflect well on you, too.
Internal customer service has a trickle-down effect. Whether you want it to or not, your everyday attitudes and interactions affect your entire team. At the end of the day, great customer service brings people back – and if your organization is going to succeed you want to bring everyone back – not just donors or clients but the people you work with every day, too!
I found the following helpful. Hope you enjoy them, too!
Inghilleri, L., & Solomon, M. (2010). Exceptional service, exceptional profit: the secrets of building a five-star customer service organization. New York: American Management Association.
Beckwith, H. (2003). What clients love: A field guide to growing your business. New York: Warner Books.
Jackie Huba’s blog: http://jackiehuba.com/blog
Zemke, R. (2004). Focus internally to impress your external customers. Memphis Business Journal. http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/stories/2004/01/26/smallb3.html?page=all