A couple days ago, Eric Jacques wrote a post called How to Listen to Your Customers which was an excellent complement to my Listening to What Isn’t Said. In the post, he made one recommendation that really struck home for me:
Everyone in your organization needs to learn how to honestly and completely listen to customers (and remember the internal customers).
In particular, it was his reminder about internal customers. How many times do we focus so intently outside the organization that we forget about the folks we serve inside? And if you don’t think you serve anyone inside your business, take some time to reconsider. We’re not talking about employees serving managers and the execs at the C-Level. We’re talking cross-functional, about departments like IT and HR. We’re also talking about the sales manager who counts on marketing to support his or her efforts. And we’re talking about the engineer who depends on product managers to relay crucial strategic info from and to customers. No matter which department you fall into or what level you’re situated within the organizational hierarchy, there’s a good bet you serve someone else inside your company at least once in a while.
Here’s the million dollar question: Does your organization have a customer experience design that includes both external and internal customers? If not, why not? Making sure your internal customers are not only satisfied but have a remarkable experience is the bedrock of smooth teamwork and operations. Here are a few suggestions for creating a better internal customer experience:
Listen intently for needs and expectations. You can’t underemphasize the importance of listening. Your objective is to listen for understanding which transforms the action into an active process. Ask for clarification when necessary. Listen for what’s not said.
Help them become even better customers. When in the act of listening, don’t be a drone content with just collecting information. You know you have needs and expectations, so reveal them. And you know you have limitations so be clear about your own workload. Constantly ask yourself, “What can I do to help this individual be a better customer?”
Keep the bigger picture firmly in view. This requires an understanding of how the organization operates and your place within it. It also means that your service objectives should be in tight step with those of the whole organizations. They should resemble a bit of the holographic that I discussed a while back.
If you’re thinking that each of these suggestions can easily apply to serving external customers, then you’d be right. Any examples of organizations getting it right in terms of creating remarkable internal customer experiences?
photo credit: wonderlane (via flickr)