How's your internal customer service?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012    

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But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves? Charity begins at home... — Sir Thomas Browne, 1642

MOST companies say that delivering great customer service is their number one mission. They bleat about it from the boardrooms, their expensive advertising, their staff meetings and some even succeed in making it happen (for a while) for their external customers. Sadly, they often forget about their most important customers — the ones inside the company, you and me. So, here we are begging for the same level of care and attention that we are instructed to give others, while we crave just a bit of it How do we fix this?

Internal customer service is the service that we give to our fellow employees who work in the departments within our organisations and who help us to do our jobs efficiently. We rely on our work mates, for example, to provide us with accurate and timely information so that we can make decisions. We oftentimes depend on them to make the workday go a little smoother for us, and here I am speaking specifically of the very important members of staff who occupy the ancillary positions.

Let's face it, what would we do without them? For one thing, that steaming hot cup of coffee or that nice glass of water that miraculously appears on our desks would be missing; our waste bins would be overflowing and perhaps generally our offices would be messy. Sometimes we fail to acknowledge the care and efficiency with which some of these employees carry out their tasks.

Look carefully and you will notice that they sometimes have greater timing and accuracy in their delivery of service to us than do some of our MBAs and other lettered bosses. It can be no mean feat to have to remember the idiosyncrasies of the many persons whom they serve.

And yet, how often do we spare the random good morning and not the unwanted guttural grunt for them on a Monday morning, when like you, they too wished they had won the Super Lotto on the weekend? How quickly do we sign off on their work or application for leave without making it seem like a great bother?

I have learnt to highly respect the work and worth of some of these individuals who often offer top-notch internal customer service, but are often overlooked in our haste to brown-nose the company's 'top-tier'.

Perhaps as employees we need to re-adjust our care for them, as it is often they who are the lone souls there to assist us to wheel out our belongings come D-eparture day.

What about those colleagues, subordinate to you and who depend on you for information in order to make their work successful? It is a well-known workplace experience that unless the instructions come from the 'Oval office' we are not inclined to jump with any amount of alacrity on those particular instructions. So, if Clerk II from the Operations Department sends a request for some urgent information that is needed for her job, you can bet your bottom dollar that that request will go under the pile or in file 13.

But if that Obnoxious Boss who heads the Processing Department sends you a badly worded request, one can rest assured that you will hire translators and other interpreters of Morse Code to find out exactly what he meant so that you can act on his wishes.

It is indeed pathetic how we deal with our colleagues who are further down the food chain than we are, offering them the barest of respect and 'service' when their requests come in. Perhaps now would be a good time for some good ole introspection. Some of us see a gap between our real job and the needs of our colleagues in the company and think that never the twain shall meet. That is not true, as in helping your work mate you help us all to succeed.

The aim of great customer service is to exceed the expectations of those who use our company's services and products. When a customer calls the company to complain or to request additional information and assistance, we tend to want to go overboard to give them good service so that they will continue to buy from us and remain our clients. It is high time that we give a similar kind of assistance to our colleagues so that they will want to remain our colleagues. Saying thank you and sharing information goes a long way in helping others. We should shun those co-workers who treat company-owned information as it was their personal domain.

Superior internal customer service improves staff morale, increases productivity, employee retention and the bottom line.

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with

RO Communications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: Visit her website at and post your comments.





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