Treat internal customers as well you do external ones

Treat internal customers as well you do external ones

by Amy Beth Miller, editor, Communication Briefings

Treat your internal customers well and your external customers will receive better service too. The co-workers sitting beside you—and your colleagues in departments throughout the organization—rely on you so that they can do their jobs well.

Provide great service to your internal customers with these habits:

  • Ask what they want. Understand what is important to them. Example: “Would you like to receive these forms as we complete them or in one batch?”
  • Explain what they can do. Tell your internal customers what actions make it easier for you to serve them. Example: “If you will put these two items at the top of your email, I will be able to answer your questions faster.” 
  • Act with respect. Maintain the professional image you show to external customers. Be polite, don’t curse and devote your full attention to them. Examples: You wouldn’t check email while talking to a client, so don’t do it while talking with a co-worker. You wouldn’t take the food off someone’s plate during a business lunch, so keep your hands off the food in the office fridge that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Be responsive and reach out. Reply to all emails and voice-mail messages that require a response within 24 hours, even if all you can say is “I’m working on that.” Keep your colleagues in the loop about changes that affect their jobs.
  • Heed boundaries. You’d never walk into a prospective customer’s home without knocking or allow your ringtone to blare out “You Sexy Thing” in the midst of your conversation with a client. Don’t allow yourself to interrupt co-workers either. Schedule appointments or ask whether there is a convenient time to talk, instead of popping your head over the cubicle wall or barging into the other person’s workstation. Set your mobile phone to silent or vibrate mode while at work, and take private conversations to a private area, so you don’t distract those around you.

Last month’s question

You definitely understand the importance of being responsive to external customers. In last month’s poll, a third of you said customers can always reach a live person in your organization for help, and another third said you have an outstanding online customer service portal.

Seventeen percent have a strong social media presence that allows customer to reach you in many ways, and another 17 percent said you offer all three avenues for customer care.

Learn what to say to angry customers, in the “What to Say When” section of this month.
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