All employees are internal customers in one way or another.
Today’s customers are more empowered and enlightened due to the wealth of information at their disposal, especially from the Internet.
Today’s customer does not have to put up with mediocre service because not only do they have options elsewhere, but they can also bring brands that have taken years to build to the ground using social media platforms.
Amazing customer experience is at the heart of any business that wants to grow.
As a matter of fact, businesses that are yet to understand the strong influence of an incredible customer experience on revenue growth — and which are hesitant to invest in the same — are at high risk of slowing down and eventually collapsing.
The internal customer, who has a direct impact on the quality and delivery of service to the external customer, is frequently overlooked and goes unnoticed.
Companies across the world should recognise their internal customers too, especially those that are not necessarily customer-facing but play a critical role in ensuring that the final experience by the external customer is nothing short of the gold standard.
An organisation that has a reputation for stellar customer experience has a web of activities all seamlessly coming together. It takes a lot of excellent service and coordination between teams internally to make this happen.
So, who is the internal customer? These are your colleagues; the people in your team relying on your input in order for work to move seamlessly forward.
Sometimes support functions work so hard, with focus on delivering on different business objectives, that they lose opportunity to make a significant business impact simply because they are not cognizant of who their customers are.
While the internal customer is applicable to every department, support functions such as marketing, HR, and finance have the biggest opportunity to make a significant business impact by providing an amazing customer experience.
All employees are internal customers of these functions in one way or another. For HR, your internal customer is seeking a great culture and work environment, opportunities to grow and develop their careers, exposure and more.
Other needs may include spurring thinking along different organisation design options to fast-track business growth, providing advice to leadership and fast and high quality recruitments.
The finance team has internal clients as well and while our immediate thoughts are on financial reporting, board reports and budget approvals, a colleague who simply walks into the finance office to request for petty cash or with a query on a finance process is an internal customer.
Did you just curtly respond and move on with your tasks or did you think through the opportunities you have to make the process easier for your customer to understand or comply with in future?
Rock-star finance teams that understand their internal customers do not only give strategic advice to the CEO on financial performance but also make it a priority to educate employees and automate processes to drive more accurate reporting, increased rigour of internal controls and reduce daunting manual requirements.
One of the finance team’s key internal customer is the sales team.
Providing outstanding service to the team by timely invoicing, being proactive in connecting with finance contacts on the external client side, and building a relationship to fast -track receivables is a breath of fresh air for sales most of who do not enjoy the cash collection process and are more excited about striking the sale and moving forward to close the next deal.
Do you know that your leader is your customer?
They hired you because they needed a problem solved. They needed extra capacity on their team and they reviewed different options and decided you were best placed to support them.
Do you ever view your leader as your customer? With this mindset, how differently would you deliver, think outside the box and go the extra mile in ensuring an amazing customer experience?
If you are a leader and have a team, what is their experience as your customer? Do you take time to drive them towards achieving their full potential, guide them and ensure they are doing meaningful and exciting work that continuously stimulates them?
Are you quick to throw them under the bus or are you continuously seeking to give them confidence, understand their strengths and gaps and expose them to bigger challenges?
I believe that continuously overlooking the internal customer leads to inefficiencies, frustration and even employee burnout and attrition.
Njoki Karungu-Karuga, Director, Talent & Organisation at Design mSurvey