Suppliers

Internal Customer Service: Guidelines for Suppliers and Contractors

Change management and organization development experts talk about ‘creating alignment’ – aligning organizational strategy with daily business needs. And a big part of this is creating alignment between customer needs and employee actions as customer service providers. But we also have to take note of internal customers – those people within the organization that service us – as internal customers and who we service as internal customers. “There is a remarkably close and consistent link between how internal customers are treated and how external customers perceive the quality of your organization’s services. It is almost impossible to provide good external service if your organization is not providing good internal service.” R. Zemke and K. Anderson, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, 1981.

And it’s not just about internal customers within the walls of your organization, it’s also about those arms-length internal customers and customer service providers – suppliers and contractors – those people who either supply your organization directly or come into contact with your external customers, directly, as your representative. These suppliers and contractors should be considered an integral part of your organization and the service they provide should be measured as accurately and frequently as you measure the service level you provide.

To my mind, servicing others, whether internal or external (customer, supplier, colleague, peer, supervisor, contractor), should reflect the values of your organization and the process to retain the best customers – again, whether internal or external – can be applied across any of these groups. Suppliers and contractors should be selected and retained based on their commitment to servicing your customers – and your employees – as you require them to be serviced. Although you do not ‘own’ these suppliers and contractors, you have the right to demand the equivalent level of service you provide …

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