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Exceptional customer service starts with how you treat your "internal customers"

Every company wants to be known for exceptional customer service. But are they extending that commitment to the people inside their own walls? How your business treats "internal customers" — employees, or anyone that helps your employees do their jobs — is a big indicator to your company's overall health.

One customer service consultancy firm found that an organization’s reputation for bad customer service was largely due to departments not working well together. Engineers weren’t taking clarification requests from customer service reps — their internal customers — seriously. The result? A single incorrect shipment cost the company $125,000 and good rapport with its external, and paying, customer.

But with every mistake, valuable lessons are learned. Here's what all managers should keep in mind.

DON'T underestimate the importance of your colleagues. What might seem like an annoying or unnecessary question could help customer service reps to not only serve clients better, but it could also help them communicate with their co-workers more effectively. 

DO plan ahead. Need an order filled to meet a deadline? Give the procurement team adequate time to work with suppliers. Have reasonable exceptions, check in often and offer help. 

DON'T overreact when a mistake is made or a deadline is missed. Respect and empathy go a long way and errors can be used to correct imperfect processes, negating bigger problems down the line. 

DO be courteous. Consider how an email may read, could brevity be mistaken for curtness? Being kind will make for a more positive and productive workplace. 

DON'T fail to listen. Maybe your colleague just needs to vent or maybe they have an innovative idea or a solution to an ongoing problem. You won’t know unless you listen. 

DO conduct training sessions regularly. You wouldn’t expect a carpenter to build a house without a hammer. Give your employees the tools and skills they need to succeed. 

DON'T forget, roles change. Today you might be the internal service provider, tomorrow you might be the customer. Provide the customer service you’d want to receive.

A strong, cohesive team won’t just avoid costly mistakes. They’ll find new ways to solve problems, mitigate risks all while creating a healthier work environment. After all, customer service starts from the inside out.


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