Why Internal Customer Service Matters

mark-589858_640How do you teach internal customer service?

This week I emailed a co-worker twice to ask when she was going to complete an invoice that I sent her two weeks ago. This was the third and fourth time I had asked her.

I didn’t want to go to our supervisor, but I had to get the repair invoiced. She of all people should have realized the time factor because she also does billing, and she keeps to her 48 hour service to billing turnaround.

What was the problem? I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt thinking she was too busy. When I finally got a commitment for completion, she still failed to follow through.  I finally went to our supervisor and asked her to complete the invoice for me.

A lot of time was wasted, I was ticked off and who was hurt in the end? The customer because it took over two weeks to receive an invoice.

Should companies have to address internal customer service?

Shouldn’t it be a matter of common sense that we help each other in a timely fashion because our goal is the same: to provide a great customer experience.

Companies spend time and money devising processes and procedures to ensure great customer service, survey customers to discover any problems, and make needed calls to disgruntled customers hoping to improve their appreciation numbers.

But how much do companies actually do when it comes to documenting guidelines about internal customer service. I would guess not much.

Be a great co-worker
There is that once a year company survey on how we can improve, but does that address the issue of how we treat our fellow employee?

Our company provided soft skills training which taught us how to talk to the customer, how to empathize and then how to help the customer. We were taught how  to soft transfer a call, how to engage in small talk when we’re busy typing, and on every call to make sure we ask if there is anything else we can do.

All this customer service training seems to be common sense, yet our company feels it’s important enough to “train.” Why not include training on internal customer service?

Unfortunately, companies fail to address how we treat our fellow employees. And maybe it’s time they should.

Here’s a quick fix for better internal customer service.

 

1. If you receive an email from a co-worker asking you to do something, respond within an hour with the job completed or an estimated time of when you will complete it. Managers, it’s important for you to adhere to this expectation too. Your employees will see that you respect the process and are more likely to stick to it.

2. If you haven’t received a response after an hour, send a reminder. At this point, I would not copy your supervisor or manager. They get enough emails throughout the day, and don’t need to get involved at this point.

3. If you haven’t heard from anyone after two hours, or whatever time you designate,  you can take the next step and get your supervisor involved. Send them a copy of the email explaining that you requested something from your co-worker and that you’ve received no response.  Your company should decide what is appropriate action at this point.

4. Twice a year, or even better, monthly,  hold a little contest for best inside customer service rep. You can set up a brief survey with a rating system on each employee or have a vote and then issue a cash reward. I find that cash is a great motivator.

I’ve provided a few suggestions that may help improve internal customer service. Try one, none, or all. These are suggestions to get you thinking of how to best implement an internal customer service plan for your company.

 

 

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