Internal customer service, or servicing those who service your customers is vital to any business progressing, properly functioning, and continuing to establish a patter of exceptional customer experiences.

As companies focus intently on improving the level of customer service they offer to clients, the quality of internal interactions within the business can become overlooked.

This is known as internal customer service – the service given and received by members of your team, for the benefit of other colleagues and departments.

Whether it’s someone from Human Resources providing payroll information, or the marketing and design team discussing campaign ideas together…internal customer service is vital to any business’ progressive functioning and ultimately, its success.

Good Customer Service For Your Own Company

Many companies fail to recognize the role of good internal customer service, perhaps believing that positive working relationships will fall naturally into place if the right employees are hired first time around. Yet that’s not always the case: everybody works to different strengths and schedules; colleagues need to be aware of others’ capabilities and workload, and work flow should be systematic and collaborative rather than demanding or competitive.

Here’s how you can measure the current state of your internal customer service, and take the morale, cooperation and productivity of your employees to a new level.

See What It’s Like Out There

What is it currently like for your employees at the moment? How easy or difficult is it for them to access information they need, plan around others’ workload, or keep up with department demands? Conduct an anonymous survey within the workplace (via email is usually the best way) to gauge the current performance of internal customer service, using either survey software or a site like SurveyMonkey.com.

Afterwards, the management team should get together to compile and examine the results (most survey software include analysis tools to make this easy). This is certain to give valuable insight into which departments or individuals are going over and above to help others…and which ones are not so forthcoming.

Draw Up A Work Flow Plan

Draw up your ideal work system, including the structure of departments or teams, and roles or positions you feel would be necessary to the growth of the company. Arrange your current employees into the structure, being honest about whom you think works best in each role. Realize that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and don’t be afraid to consider a reshuffle if you feel someone could make more of a difference elsewhere.

Next, try to determine how the work flow should go on a day-to-day basis – the tasks that need to be completed and by whom; who they may need to liaise with whilst doing so and so on. This will enable you to see how projects might receive input from different teams, or the ongoing processes that move between departments.

Make It Easy To Communicate

To encourage your colleagues to work together, you have to make it easy. Ensure separate teams are placed appropriately around the office or building so that communication between teams that work together regularly is straight-forward. This might mean moving marketing and design closer together, or putting customer service gurus and tech support in the same room.

Whatever it takes, make your work flow more likely to run smoothly by creating more opportunity to communicate without needing to use telephone or email.

Encourage Transparency Between Departments

Ensure every department is aware of what they can expect from other departments. It’s helpful if this is outlined by each team, and then displayed clearly either as an auto-email response or on your company intranet so those asking for a favor can know what to expect.

This includes what the team is able to help with; the best way to arrange a meeting; their availability hours, and potential turnaround times for the completion of tasks. This will help colleagues to negotiate and understand one another’s priorities, and understand that they may not always be first in line when it comes to having their requests dealt with.

Instill A Happy, Positive and Upbeat Atmosphere

The health of your employees’ self esteem will inevitably reflect the output and performance of your company as a whole, so most if not all internal interrelations should contribute to happy, confident workers who feel valued in their efforts. Discourage or eliminate any actions that can bring down morale in the workplace; particularly gossip, as this feeds antagonism and self-doubt.

Remind employees not to point fingers when mistakes are made, but to remember that everyone is human. Instill a policy of ‘teach not preach’, whereby a colleague can show someone where they went wrong and offer to help them rectify the problem. They can also introduce them to measures to help ensure the same mistakes are not likely to happen again.

Continue To Support an Open Environment

Continue to monitor internal customer service performance so that problems can be brought to the table and colleagues will feel comfortable about suggesting improvements to the work flow system. Issue regular follow-up surveys across departments, and set up a policy for dealing with negative employee relations or deficiencies in a team or individual’s willingness to cooperate.

Each employee should know how to complain appropriately and any problems should be talked over with as soon as possible to avoid apathy or negative feelings spreading throughout the office. Many worker discrepancies are simply result of misunderstandings, so identifying where communication broke down can help prevent the situation from occurring again.

By implementing certain policies and processes in the workplace, you can create an atmosphere of sharing and helping among employees and turn those perceived ‘interruptions’ into opportunities for colleagues to serve and impress their internal ‘customers’. Sustaining this atmosphere over time is also likely to lead to improved time management, work quality, your external customer service and therefore, your profitability.