Did you think only those people who buy products or services are called Customers? Well, a business has one more type of customer, the Internal Customer. Employees, suppliers – be it the raw-material supplier or a technical service-provider, housekeeping or security firm, they come under the umbrella of ‘Internal Customers’.
For a small business, it’s very important to service their internal customers and keep them happy in order to keep the operations seamless and the northward movement of the growth chart. Here are a few pointers on good Internal Customer Service.
A key success factor in dealing with internal customers is communication – Make sure you keep it open and smooth. Be available and present for them just like you make yourself available for your external customers.
Try to apply the same standards and measurements that you use for your external customers. Hold weekly/ monthly team meetings with your employees to discuss and address problems.
They need to know that you are there for them when they need you. Keep them informed about the business’s future and their role in it, they will feel cherished and consider themselves an integral part of the team.
All employees rely on basic respect and appreciation from the top. When you treat your internal customers with respect and take care of their needs, it motivates them to work well which in turn offers a morale boost for the business. This ultimately benefits external customers who are taken care of by more satisfied employees.
In small businesses, it’s often seen that entrepreneurs dilly-dally on payments and resort to petty monetary negotiations in order to save some pennies. Never do that. You will lose their trust and confidence in you.
Such an association based on mistrust can’t go far. Pay your employees’ monthly salaries on time and all the outstanding bills on a pre-scheduled date every month. This way your employees, suppliers and service providers would know when to expect their payment.
Prompt problem solving
A disgruntled employee could be a big liability to the company. Hence, listen to their problems and act on them promptly. This will build their confidence, trust, and respect for you. You get the bottom-line benefits in the form of reduced turnover, better profits and cost savings as happy employees tend to work more efficiently and effectively, increasing productivity and reducing inefficiencies.
Go the extra mile
Do something extra and out-of-the-blue for them which exceeds their expectations. It helps bridge the gaps in relationships and binds them deeply. Every once in a while, take your employees out for dinner/lunch, offer them movie tickets or gift vouchers or gift them chocolates.
Organize a team picnic or fun session with them. Similarly, engage with your suppliers, take them out for an informal business lunch/dinner. Though it looks innocuous, the results are long-lasting.
Appreciation It’s very important to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the workforce from time to time. As you expect ‘’Thank you’’ from your external customers on a good job done, you need to forward that down the hierarchy as well. On completion of a project, signing of a new deal, etc. reward your internal customers with a pat on their back or a simple ‘thank you’.
It will go a long way in strengthening your relationships. While some may debate the usefulness behind spending time and money for internal customers, the truth is that the results far surpass the expenses. Think of internal customer service as a long-term investment.