Internal customer service isn’t exactly the same as external customer service, but it’s no less essential. As a customer service consultant, I spend my time on both, and have devised the list below of the different subtleties of execution involved in internal customer service: internal customer service best practices/principles for transforming your company culture into one where internal customer service is a powerful force.
1. Respect is expected. With no exceptions. Bullying has to be addressed immediately, no matter how high up in the organization it occurs.
2. Fine points of etiquette don’t have to be the same internally as externally (for example, we can informally answer an internal extension with “Purchasing–Jim” rather than “XYZ Homewares, Jim speaking, how may I help you today?”), but the spirit of kindness must prevail.
3. Through lateral service, we do more for each other, and for the company. By moving out of our assigned positions to help fellow employees when they are temporarily short-staffed, we build a stronger company for employees and external customers.
4. Language matters, internally as well as externally, because feelings matter. “Please” and “Thank you” are not forbidden phrases. Use them often
5. Expressed and unexpressed wishes are both important. Example: a fellow employee makes a specific request, by email. You can either send them exactly what they asked for (and nothing more), or you can also, thoughtfully, include the attachments that they will need to begin working on X, even though they didn’t explicitly ask for them.
6. As with external customer service, there are three stages to every service: beginning, performing the service, and closing the service. If you only do the middle item (perform the service), you will fail. (Don’t be the tone-deaf manager who gets all the bills paid, processes payroll and completes the month-end reports but doesn’t say “good morning” or “have a nice evening.”)
7. People have a right to grow at work. Be a company that works with its employees to identify opportunities for their professional learning and advancement. 8. People have a right to be involved in the design of the work that they do or that affects them. Ask for the opinions and input of affected employees prior to launching a new initiative.