Who is more vital to an organization: customers or the ‘internal customer' facing staff? This is an ever-growing debate, and it's about time to settle it down.
Over the past decade or so, companies have gained awareness about providing an excellent customer experience (CX). You can see businesses worldwide take various steps to delight their customers and turn them into loyal fanatics. But, what about internal customers, i.e., your employees?
Your employees have several customer-like interactions within your organization that gives enough scope to enhance your overall employee experience (EX).
When a company embraces the idea that employees too can have expectations around the customer service provided internally, it naturally fosters an environment that drives managing and understanding internal customers' service. This, in turn, promotes strong EX.
More of that later.
For now, let's understand the definition of internal customer.
An internal customer is someone within an organization who, at any given time, is dependent on anyone else in the organization. Here, in simple terms, an internal customer can even become your situational customer.
There might be a case where an employee has a problem that's impeding their workflow. This is where they reach out to the internal customers' service team for assistance. The internal customers' service team, in turn, refers to the services provided by your business to its employees.
The interactions that take place in such a scenario are not always customer-facing but involve two or more team members.
A practical example of internal customer service is an IT help desk.
In case any employee has any technical problem, they rush to the IT team for support. In turn, the IT team scrutinizes the issue at hand and comes with a solution that fits the employees' short and long-term needs.
With this instantaneous response, problems get resolved, and employees can resume their work promptly.
Most companies believe that external customers play a critical role in generating revenue. However, this is where they are not totally right. The reason being, providing internal customer service first is key to driving more business profits.
Here are some of the benefits companies can derive by considering internal customers' service.
It empowers them to do an excellent job
Employees who are always at the receiving end of support and appreciation feel motivated to do their best work for the company. The sense of gratitude and extruding confidence they feel goes a long way in driving them to serve the external customers.
This way, they do their best to do everything in their power to benefit the company. On top of that, when you give your internal customer, i.e., employees, the tools, resources, and information they require, you set them up to perform in a distinctive way towards their projects and ventures.
Enhances employee retention
It is a well-known fact that hiring new employees is a tad more expensive than retaining the existing ones. It is also a time-consuming process that takes a lot of effort from your HR team that could very well be spent on other lucrative opportunities.
On the other hand, happy employees not only work harder and better, but they are also inclined to remain with your organization for more time.
Improves cohesiveness and streamlines processes
The efficiency with which your internal customers, i.e., employees, work dramatically impacts the result. It reduces the chances of missteps, detours, and disorganization, resulting in time delays, cost oversights, and poor-quality work.
On the other hand, employees who receive a roadmap for processes and projects have the necessary tools to deliver high-quality, precise work to meet company and external customer goals.
Now that we have looked at the benefits that you as a company can derive by considering the internal customer's service, in the last section of this write-up, we will divert your attention to the different steps you need to take to embrace internal customer's service.
So, without further delay, let's get started.
Here are some practical steps to foster an environment that embraces and maximizes internal CX.
1. Get feedback from the internal customer to learn where key customer interactions take place
Companies need to ascertain where exactly the critical customer interaction occurs for internal customers, i.e., employees. Once you can find these critical moments, it is imperative to perform journey mapping to outline from start to end what this experience is like for an employee.
This way, you will come to know the major breakdowns that they might experience. It will also inform you where you need to take additional feedback from employees to find a resolution.
For example, suppose your IT Help Desk phone line is consistently an experience that is causing frustration amongst your employees in the organization. It might be time for you to accumulate employee feedback after this particular interaction to understand where it is going wrong.
If you get the employee feedback at the right time, i.e., during the transaction, it will enable you to get timely and specific feedback on where the service breakdown is happening.
2. Employ closed-loop follow-up while taking action
Most of the time, external CX departments employ closed-loop feedback to transform a negative interaction into a positive experience. The same principle applies to internal CX as well.
Developing a company culture that seeks and appreciates the feedback helps in creating a healthy work environment.
A prime example of that is that an employee is dependent on HR to get benefits support. If he does not get the answer in the initial call, HR can initiate a ticket to ensure the employee receives a resolution in the quickest possible time.
3. Enquire whether the action plan worked or not
The companies need to know whether the action plan they have devised has resulted in fruitful consequences. If the problems are not solved, it will become imperative for the companies to take the concerned employees' under-confidence to understand their grievances. If the employee is upfront in giving their feedback, it showcases whether the action plan has worked or not.
4. Do not forget the importance to conduct third party surveys as employees resist speaking openly about their grievances
In the corporate culture, it is usually a case wherein employees resist speaking about their grievances in the open.
The reason for that being, they understand that their superiors will meet them somewhere down the line in their career, and they do not want to jeopardize their reputation, which is at stake all the time. This makes them remain quiet at all times. During such instances, third-party surveys can act as a blessing in disguise to provide feedback anonymously.
When the companies receive the surveys, they can improve their internal processes, which, in turn, assists the internal customers, i.e., employees, to serve the external customers in a much more efficient way.
5. Always think of ways to make internal customer better
Today, every employee is looking for growth opportunities along with personal development and compensation. As a company, one of the best ways to inculcate loyalty and enrich your employees' experiences by providing them opportunities to learn.
You can even create your courses by using a Learning Management System (LMS). A simple way to do that is by creating a membership site on WordPress with an LMS plugin.
Another way is by providing leadership opportunities to internal customers, i.e., employees, or create a mentorship program within the company.
This will give them ample scope to build their skills to apply in your business. You may even create goodwill amongst your internal customer, which arouses a desire for them to stay in your company for a long time.
No doubt you need to put in a great deal of effort in looking after your external customers. However, everything you do and every interaction that your employee has with your brand is dependent on your employees' performance.
Hence, it makes sense to enrich employees' experiences in the same way you would do for your external customers. Think about your employees as your internal customer, which can help you reshape how they perceive your management.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide on the internal customer. For more such exciting write-ups on customer experience (CX), keep following this section for more!
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