Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Six Essential Steps for Effective Internal Customer Service

In business, as in life, you can often find a multitude of reasons why you shouldn’t do certain things you know to be right. The solution is to concentrate on the one or two reasons why you should.” Nigel Brownbill

Nowhere is this quote more true than with individuals and organisations trying to embrace the basic principles of internal customer service, especially as “it is widely accepted that internal customer satisfaction is a driving force in the achievement of external customer satisfaction, which is critical to the long-term success of any organisation” (Jun, M. and Cai, S., 2010, p. 219)

Organisational leadership needs to help employees understand their internal relationships in respect of internal customer service and how to make it effective. Following these six simple steps will add immediate value to your job and your organisation;

1. It’s the organisations responsibility to ensure they have the right people in the right positions – at all levels.

2. Organisations don’t need you to be best friends with the employees in the departments ‘down the corridor’, but they do need you to work professionally together, day after day, developing internal customer relationships.

3. Successful internal customer service relationships are developed in a climate of collaboration where the customer expectations are based on organisational requirements (rather than personal) and where the parties work together to find optimal business solutions.

4. Providing internal customer service becomes the rule not the exception. Internal customers do not misuse their position of perceived power, preferring to work with their internal service providers to build a climate of mutual understanding and respect.

5. Communication – Communication – Communication. The internal customer service relationship is all about continual and effective communication, where the internal customer is communicating their realistic needs and expectations (and how these may change from time to time due to organisational priorities) and the internal service provider is continually providing feedback on performance, constraints and opportunities.

6. The win-win solution is taking the professional ‘high-ground’ and accepting you can work within a business environment, where you collaborate and work with your respective internal customer or service provider. This will be rewarding both for the organisation and more importantly for you, where your working environment will be significantly more enjoyable than the alternative.

In conclusion it’s worth remembering that an organisation is made up of a group of diversified individuals who need to work together in the most efficient way to ensure the organisation optimises its current and future potential. The customer – service relationship can often be misunderstood as a hierarchical relationship where the internal customer can place unrealistic demands on their internal counter-part (and visa-versa). However we know from external customer service that if a customer places unrealistic expectations on an organisation, it will lead to a break down in the customer-service relationship and will have a detrimental impact on an organisations performance.

So it just requires individuals, such as yourself, to embrace these simple steps which will improve internal customer relationships and in doing so, increase your levels of job satisfaction; a win-win for everybody.


Jun, M. and Cai, S. (2010). Examining the relationship between internal service quality and its dimensions, and internal customer satisfaction. Total Quality Management, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 205-223.

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