The following piece describes how you can focus on your customer by, among other things, expectation management, a clear service catalogue, knowledge management and communication. Hopefully, after reading this you will know how to optimize your services by focusing on your customer.

Internal services are of vital importance to the organization, of course. Supporting departments, such as IT, human resources and facility management enable the employees’ daily work. Setting up a work station, resolving a technical problem or reserving a room; all of this is possible thanks to good services.

From colleague to customer

Service departments could not exist if there was no demand for the services they provide. Departments providing services not only support colleagues, but help internal customers as well. This realization is an important part of optimizing your services. A customer-oriented approach can help you increase the supported employees’ satisfaction and, thereby, increase the department’s right to exist. This change in mindset is the first step towards improved services.

Many organizations choose to optimize their services with the help of a tool, which the internal customer can use to log call and request services or products. Setting up such a tool can greatly improve your services. It is certainly important to remember that the tool is only a means to increase the customer satisfaction and efficiency, and is not a goal in itself. In addition to the tool, you should continue to communicate and provide good services.

The customer’s expectations

As a supporting department you deal with different questions from many different internal customers. All these customers have expectations about the services that the department provides. Not being able to meet these expectations can lead to disappointment and affect customer satisfaction. Managing your customer’s expectations is, therefore, essential when you want to increase customer satisfaction and justify your department’s existence.

Transparency

Managing expectations begins with transparent communication. Does your internal customer know what you can offer him or her? Tell your customer which services you provide, but also mention which services you don’t provide. When a customer requests a product or service that you don’t offer, and you don’t communicate this, then you cannot meet the customer’s expectations. This will certainly affect customer satisfaction. It is important to clearly indicate what your services do and don’t cover. When you don’t provide a certain product or service, it’s also important to point your customer in the right direction. This helps you keep your customers satisfied, even when you can’t fulfil a request.

What’s more, many departments providing services forget to communicate about the time needed to process a request. When will a specific product be delivered? Clearly communicating the expected delivery date ensures that your customer doesn’t expect to receive the product within a day, while the actual delivery time is a week. The department will then receive fewer complaints about delivery times being (too) long, helping you increase customer satisfaction.

A continuous conversation

Managing expectations demands a continuous conversation between the service provider and the customer. For example, you can consider implementing status updates. This lets you inform employees about the status of solving their problem. By showing that you take the problem seriously and are working on a solution, you also demonstrate that you understand that the problem is very inconvenient for the customer.

Moreover, involving the customer in your service delivery can keep the conversation going. You can do this by means of a customer satisfaction survey or by involving a customer panel when you draw up and improve your service catalogue. This lets you live up to your customer’s expectations even better.

An optimal service catalogue

The service catalogue is your department’s shop window. It clearly describes which products and services your department can and can’t deliver. In many organizations it is not always clear to internal customers which services and products can be requested. Communicating this clearly in a catalogue is an added value for your customer.

You can let your customer play a central role in your services by opting for an interactive service catalogue. This catalogue features all the information about products and services, and the customer can log a request or call at the same time.

Benefits for the customer and the service provider

Drawing up and maintaining a clear, interactive catalogue offers many benefits. Customers can register a request or call in fewer steps. It also provides transparency, clear information and customers have a good idea of what they can expect. The customer can log a call at any time and place, and problems are resolved faster. Not only the customer, but also the service provider benefits from an improved catalogue. It creates more clarity, helping you manage expectations. By providing clear information that is immediately available to the customer, the supporting department receives fewer questions. What’s more, the customer can also add a form to their request that contains all the required information. In this way the customer’s problem is immediately clear and it is not necessary to ask additional questions, which saves your department a lot of time.

Together with the customer

Drawing up a service catalogue is the perfect opportunity to talk to your customer about the products and services that you deliver. This not only helps you manage expectations – you can also critically examine your department’s range of products and services. A good catalogue is always designed together with the customer. It lets you create more support for your services, helps you make sure that your customer actually understands the final result, and you can promote your department internally.

Good communication about the new catalogue will create wider support. It is important to meet the expectations that you create in the catalogue. If it states that you will respond to a problem within 24 hours then this is your chance to prove it. Delivering products and services requested via the catalogue in a good, reliable manner will give your customers confidence in the system.