Definition: An internal customer is defined as a customer who works in the organization and does not pay for using the company’s product or service. Internal customers are the company’s employees or the stakeholders within the company who are interdependent to complete their jobs.
The more the employees are involved in an organization, the better would be the external customer experience and the faster the company will reach its goal and objective. The idea of the internal customer is to enable the employees to get involved in the company’s management, products, and services.
Who is an Internal Customer?
An internal customer is anyone who works within the company or with whom employees or staffs interact inside the organization as a part of their regular job or responsibility.
Such employees are also known as the stakeholder. Their overall experience directly impacts the quality of the product that has to be delivered to the external customer.
Examples of Internal Customer
Internal customers are the stakeholder directly impacting the product or services, thus helping the company meet its organizational goal. The internal customer is in every department and can show up in any form of a relationship. Some of the examples are given below;
1. People within a team
When working as a team, everything does not depend on a single person. A person is responsible for designing and coding the email in a marketing or sales team, and another is responsible for sending them out. If the individual responsible for sending the email design is late, the whole process gets delayed. Hence there should be proper coordination and communication within the team.
2. IT department and its company employees
Technology and digitalization have made work so much easy and efficient. The employees rely on the IT department to ensure that the system is working efficiently. If the system is inefficient and not working in the desired condition, the entire company would suffer. Hence, IT will ask for valuable feedback from their internal customer to resolve the issues to identify the breakdown point.
3. Human resource department
Every employee of the company is an internal customer to the HR department. This is because HR is also responsible for the well-being of the company’s employees. The HR team ensures that the employees are receiving the required benefits, training, and so on.
Some of the common examples of the Internal customer-
- Temporary workers
- Full-time employees
What is an Internal Customer Service?
Internal customer service allows the employees to work in a hassle-free manner and make a notable contribution. It provides solutions to any problem that your employees or internal customers face.
Internal customer service is crucial as it narrates the employees’ overall experience to ensure an effective workflow in the organization. For example, if an accounts department of a Call Center has trouble accessing the PMS, those will reach out to the IT department.
This is because the IT department is responsible for handling the technology and the system of the hotel. The IT personal will troubleshoot the problem faced by the accountant. Such services are very regular in an organization that involves more than one team member in the whole procedure.
Every department supports the other, and hence this falls the internal customer service. Another example would be the Kitchen and Service department. Foods are served by the service department, which the kitchen department makes.
Common Characteristics of the Internal Customers
1. Close bonded relationship
Every department supports the other, which helps in creating a close bond among the employees. This is different from the relationship with the clients. For example, the company only extends its services and product; thus, there is no personal relationship between the company and the customer. But with the employees, everyone has to work in the same environment, which helps develop a trusting relationship.
2. Frequent interaction
The employees have frequently sought support or service from the relevant department. System breakdown is widespread in a company that is dependent on technology. Hence there is a regular interaction between the respective department.
3. Two-way communication
Internal customer service is a two-way communication as departments help out each other to ensure a smooth workflow. For example, in a hotel, the kitchen and service departments coordinate with each other to give quality service to the customers.
Why should your company pay attention to your Internal Customers?
Strong customer service helps retain the customers for the company. It helps in creating business opportunities. However, to provide exceptional service, one needs an efficient and hardworking team. Hence it is crucial to provide a good working environment within the company.
For example, a sale of the product can only succeed if the marketing team advertising campaign. In this case, the sales department is the internal customer of the marketing department. Therefore a company should pay close attention to internal customers.
This is because, ultimately, an organization can reach the goal only if all the responsible departments are working efficiently in coordination.
How to Manage Internal Customers?
Managing internal customers is important for any company to achieve the desired result. A company can manage internal customers in the following ways;
The company has first to identify where the key customer interaction is taken place for employees. Then the company should track down the start pointing from the endpoint of the employees’ experience. This will ensure you know more about where the breakdown occurs.
On those points of breakdown, the company can receive feedback from the employees to solve the problem or issue. For example, if a production team facing a problem due to machinery will get frustrated because their work is not done efficiently. This negatively impacts the overall experience of the whole department. From the necessary feedback, the company can work to solve the issue.
2. Taking Action
The internal communication for the internal customer is a closed-loop. It ensures to help the company to turn the negative interaction or experience into a positive one. It is up to a company to create an appreciative work environment which will result in the employees being more motivated. In such cases, HR plays a big role in the company. A supportive HR will be sought by the employees who are facing any work-related problems. And HR will ensure that it gets resolved at the earliest possible time.
3. Creating Service standard
A company should establish a clear service standard that will give the employees clear instructions on how things are operated. Every department has to their designated work which always comes up with the standard operating procedure. The SOP ensures that everyone in the company knows what to do and feels valued.
4. Acknowledging accomplishment and celebrating success
Employees are motivated if acknowledged for their hard work. This practice in a company will ensure better-desired results and a good working environment. The employees’ success should also be celebrated, for example, an employee of the month.
Who is an External Customer?
External customers are the people who pay for the company’s product or services. Such people see the company as the provider of their needs and necessity. For example, if a customer wants to purchase toothpaste, that customer will purchase the product of the same brand.
Internal Customers vs. External Customers
Some of the common differences between internal and external customers on different grounds are-
|The article is a part of series on Marketing management|
On the concluding note, it is clear that offering excellent services to your internal customers i.e. employees requires commitment but it offers outstanding benefits like increased productivity, boosted employee retention, and better external customer services.
Satisfied employees (whose expectations are met by internal customer service) not only enjoy working for an organization but also fulfill their responsibilities with more enthusiasm and dedication.
How effective do you find internal customer service for optimizing the performance and profits of an organization?