As a customer service consultant and speaker, I find myself fielding inquiries about internal customer service almost as often as external. These two concepts aren’t precisely the same and have different subtleties of execution, so here are ten internal customer service best practices: principles for transforming your company culture into one where internal customer service is a powerful force.
1. Without each other, there is no company. By serving our fellow employees, we empower them to serve their customers, and make magic happen.
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. Respect is expected. With no exceptions. Bullying has to be addressed immediately, no matter how high up in the organization it occurs
6. 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.
7. 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.”)
8. What gets celebrated gets repeated. By celebrating the times when our fellow employees succeed at work, we inspire further success.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and thought leader on internal customer service and company culture, keynote speaker on internal and external customer service, and bestselling author. Click for two free chapters from Micah’s latest book, The Heart of Hospitality, or click here to email him directly for an immediate response, or give him a call at (484)343-5881.