If you work in a customer service role, you’re well aware that how you communicate with customers matters a great deal. It seems that the importance of high-quality customer service is only increasing; according to Microsoft, 54% of consumers reported higher expectations for the service they receive compared to a year ago. Average service just won’t cut it anymore – if it ever did!
In order to respond to the high service standards expected of your organization, you’ve likely implemented various policies and training for your team. For instance, maybe your team has discussed at length how to handle phone-based service scenarios involving irate customers or customers who like to talk (and talk and talk…). Or perhaps you’ve sought out information for how your team can master those basic selling skills including:
- Asking for time to talk
- Using echo questions
- Avoiding weak, wimpy words
Whatever the specifics, there’s a good chance that time and money has been invested into ensuring that your team members represent your organization well, fix customer problems quickly and completely, and build customer loyalty through continued excellent service.
Consider, though, what attention has been given to your other set of customers – your internal customers.
Delivering internal customer service
You might be wondering, “who are the internal customers? Is this an entire customer base we’ve been missing out on?” Internal customers are your coworkers within the organization. Think of it this way: everyone in the business impacts the service that can be delivered to external customers – or your “traditional” customers. Even employees who won’t ever interact with a customer influence the success of those in customer-facing positions. As such, every single person has a role to play in adhering to the high standards of service that customers expect.
If the virtual private network that your team typically uses to work remotely is down, no one will be able to use the secure email server to respond to customer emails. So, the person who handles IT problems has a major impact on your team’s ability to deliver service. Or, if the work building is unclean, employees will have trouble focusing, and working in that space will be uncomfortable and unproductive. Again, this will hinder their ability to serve customers. No matter how unrelated the job might seem, there is a way to link it to the people in your organization who are interacting with external customers.
We are customers to each other
Given the importance of every single person in delivering excellent service, your organization cannot afford internal strife or mistreatment. To prevent any such issues, team members should operate as if their coworkers are another type of customer – their internal customers. Rather than adhering to one standard of service for external customers and another for coworkers, everyone you interact with for business purposes should receive the same fantastic treatment.
While this might sound challenging at first, particularly if you’re used to putting in a lot of effort to provide great service to your customers, consider the fact that you are your coworkers’ internal customer. As such, they should extend the same great treatment to you in return. This will make for a happier, healthier workplace, both inside and out. When conflicts do arise, as they’re likely to do in any modern workplace, problems can be resolved respectfully, as they would be with an external customer.
Communicating with internal customers
Once you’ve mastered the idea of providing the same great service to your internal customers, it’s time to extend that to how you communicate. When sending emails to coworkers, you might slip into a more casual tone. You might find yourself violating some of the best practice suggestions for using email in business, including forgetting to use:
- Short and helpful subject lines
- Warm greeting and closing lines
- Error-free messages
In following the principle that ‘we are customers to each other’ though, your email communication with coworkers should mirror the quality of the messages you send to external customers. While it might be tempting to forgo some of these guidelines that make sending an email slightly more effortful, you’ll hopefully be reminded of the worth of this effort each time you receive a well-written email from a colleague.
To learn more about how to optimize email communication in your organization to deliver outstanding service to internal and external customers alike, contact a ServiceSkills representative today. You can request a free demo of Email Matters: The Art of Better Service, a training series with 18 scenario-based courses that deliver practical information that will have an immediate impact. Check out a few of our latest posts on this series:
- Creating Great Subject Lines
- Writing with Conviction, Jargon and Shortcuts, and Responding Promptly
- Address Fields and Opening and Closing Lines
- Face-to-Face Communication vs. Email
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