Having taken a detour into some case studies let us get back to some theory on internal customer service.
As we had seen earlier, Internal Customer Service is a concept that brings about a change in the attitude of all employees in an organization. The change that takes place is one of treating each other as a customer for all transactions and extending the service that a customer would expect. This attitudinal change is relatively simple to achieve with proper explanation of the concept and the reason why this needs to be achieved. People understand and appreciate the need for proper customer service, which can only be of benefit for everyone in the organization and so readily accept the need for it.
I have known the change to be so dramatic that strangers visiting the organization have been left puzzled by employees claiming service from colleagues claiming to be customers. Teamwork, cooperation and being proactive are all automatic by products of the change in attitudes.
In an organization where this has been achieved, what happens is that an external customer gets to interact with one person in the organization and goes away completely satisfied and as an ambassador to the company, its product/s and its people. Each employee takes ownership of the need to extend service as a matter of course.
An interesting side effect has been observed. Employees exposed to such a change and working in an environment that fosters this attitude, begin to notice that their relationships in personal lives also undergo change for the better.
Of course, it is the second alternative approach that will work better. It does not need a great deal of thought to figure that one out. Unfortunately, most “Customers” lose out on excellent service by being the first type. Quarrelsome, rude and impatient. While the customer is always right, the customer need not be an obnoxious specimen.
I have repeatedly found that being polite and courteous to people who serve me, works wonders in terms of Customer Service. Quite why people do not practice this simple method when they want good customer service is beyond me. Having started off this topic in all its intricacies, as a customer more often than a service provider, I believe that this is a good place to start our adventure in improving the kind of customer service that we can hope to get from all suppliers of goods and services.
This brings me to a very important approach to Customer Service, which is what is known as internal customer service in many organizations. The principle is very simple. Each person or department in an organization treats each other person or department that he/she deals with as a customer and extends the kind of service that a customer would expect. The concept is simple but extremely difficult to apply in real life due to one simple factor. “That is not my job” attitude. In other words, staying focused on one’s own responsibilities without giving much thought to how one fits into the overall scheme of things, or the big picture. For instance, if the customer face of the organization, the sales person makes a commitment to deliver on a particular day, she will expect everyone else in the back up team to help her deliver on her promise. On the other hand, let us say the delivery section refuses to accept this as their own commitment, and go by their own formulae, it is inevitable that the promise will not be met and results in poor customer service.
Let me give you an example. Four days ago, I booked a replacement cooking gas cylinder, by telephoning the distributor. The lady who took the order promised delivery the next day and gave me to understand that the delivery will be around lunch time, or around 1.00 pm. The delivery did not take place till 3.30 pm when I had to go out for a meeting. I had to request a neighbor to keep an eye on matters and if the delivery came, to take it and keep it till my return. After I had left, the delivery took place at 4.00 pm, causing considerable inconvenience to my neighbor.
What do you think went wrong? Could the person attending the phone not have foreseen this, or did she not convey her commitment to the delivery persons, or was it a break down in some system somewhere?