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Transformational Leadership

Internal Customer Service Precedes External Customer Service

Anil Salick asked:

Internal Customer Service precedes External Customer Service – Anil Salick

It’s true. How we treat the people in our own company will determine how we treat our customers. I believe this to be a fundamental principle to customer service satisfaction and continued repeat business. How customers experience us is their reality, and their reality translates to our bottom line.

Here are 4 suggestions to developing Internal Customer Service:

1. Be efficient. An old age quality awareness cliché says: Do it right first time, on time, every time. If everybody did their work right ‘first time, on time, every time’, there would be no need for inspection and quality assurance. Imagine the saving on rejects, errors, defects, late delivery, downtime and much more. It simply takes an attitude of planning, prevention and consideration of the cost of not conforming to requirements. If you were required to stitch two pieces of fabric with an 8mm seam, and your very best was 6mm, somehow your very best does not meet the requirement. I have learnt that ‘do your best’ is not the same as ‘meet the requirement’.

2. Be effective. You could be efficient but you may not be effective. Warren Bennis, a modern management guru, teaches that ‘efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right thing’. Often there’s too much talk about continuous improvement and too little on continuous innovation. Maybe it’s time to question whether we are doing things right or doing the right things. Why climb the ladder of success which such speed, accuracy and persistence only to find that when we get to the top rung – it’s leaning on the wrong wall?

3. Be respectful to your fellow team members. People don’t quit companies, people quit people. Our inter-personal interactions have a huge bearing on staff satisfaction in the workplace. Treat your staff as you would treat customers, and see what starts to happen. We breed in them the desire, mentality and culture of reciprocating this to the customer. In all my years as a manager, I have never publically raised my voice to a staff member. And even if you live the rule of ‘praise in public, censure in private’, we can do so with respect and dignity – keeping people separate from problems.

4. Keep your commitments. When we commit to doing something for someone, especially if commitment affects the work and performance, make sure you accomplish it by the set time frame. A commitment is different to an interest in something. When we are interested in doing something we’ll do so when it’s convenient; when we are committed, we accept no excuses, only results.

These simple 4 principles build a culture of customer service practice. Rather than looking for an outside in solution start with management buy-in and practice from the top. ‘Water flows top-down’; and ‘the fish rots from the head’ – teaches us that the key to transformation is management. If you want to know the attitude of people in an organisation, talk to their leader.

*We assist companies in benchmarking customer service standards, measuring staff’s proficiencies and behaviours, and train management and staff accordingly in customer service excellence. For more information, contact anil.salick@synout.co.za or visit www.synout.co.za

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