Whether you realize or not, your business’ customer service is directed at more than one type of customer. You have external customers: the people who pay for your goods and hire your company to perform services. In the case of contractors, external customers are the individuals who expect to be comfortable after you visit their home or business.

You also have internal customers: your company’s team of employees, leaders, and other people who help your business succeed. These are the people who are paid to work with or for you.

Most businesses don’t think of their employees as internal customers, but employees — your internal customers — are just as important to the success of a business as external customers. A thriving company depends on a workplace culture where its internal customers are as interested in providing quality service to each other as they are in serving your external customers. Your employees and company leaders depend on each other; your external customers depend on your internal customers.

When your business isn’t serving both your external and internal customers simultaneously, imbalance follows. For instance, if your company’s only focus is on ensuring your external customers are happy, your internal customers — your team— will be tapped out; energy will only be going outwards. That’s not sustainable. If your business is mainly focused on keeping its internal customers happy and making money, your external customers will cease to feel served. That’s also not sustainable.

Do you see how this works? If only one end of the customer service spectrum is thriving, the other soon withers and dies.

But can there be balance?

There’s no reason your business can't serve both its external and internal customers at the same time, and in the same capacity. Consider what your external customers want: respect, integrity, quality work, and open communication.

Your internal customers want the exact same things. These are common desires of any human being, regardless of which side of the customer service relationship a person is on. Both your external and internal customers have the same motives for being involved with you and your organization.

When it comes to ensuring both your internal and external customers are getting quality customer service, here are a few things to think about:

  • How does your business currently serve each type of customer? What’s the right way to treat each type? Would you hire your business for service? Would you work for you?
  • What tools and resources are you using, or do you have in place, to make the customer experience better for both internal and external customers? How you can you make sure everyone is on the receiving end of respect, quality work, and open communication?

Publication date: 6/26/2019

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